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An Earthbound Perspective

Practical perspective on MMO play and practice.

Author: Dengar

Please Stop Crying: A Mature Defense of PvP Servers

Posted by Dengar Saturday July 30 2011 at 1:14PM
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So there was a recent article about world pvp tactics for griefing in WoW that caused a bit of a stir. I could say I was shocked by what people wrote but, I wasn't. For some reason, there are a lot of people who go to pvp servers who honestly shouldn't be there. No, I'm not trying to sound elitist, or bully people around. Let me be very clear about a few common misconceptions about PvPers and PvP servers.

First of all, if you went to a pvp server, you essentially agreed to the idea of players policing each other. Anything that people can do to mess you up will happen (I will admit that I dislike meta-gaming via spies and thieves since that's more of a real world thing, but I know some games have it, and if I can't take it, I avoid it). Game mechanics can do quite a bit, but you've agreed to give your fellow players the option to kill you at any possible chance. Imagine going into an arcade (do they still exist?) and asking a bunch of people at the latest Street Fighter machine not to fight you because you want to play against the game. To use another analogy, it'd be like if you were playing basketball with a bunch of people and suddenly started kicking the ball claiming you just wanted to play soccer. The tools for that may be available, but the community probably isn't aiming for that activity.

That's really how this works. We're not all jerks. We know what we want from our game, and when you say something like, "I just want to quest" we get confused. Where is a PvPer supposed to play if people on the PvP servers aren't actually there to pvp? There are PvE servers for a reason! It's a similar situation to non-RPers on an RP server. There's a specific game play style we're looking for, and when you ignore your server type and get upset at us doing what the server is set up for, you've made a big mistake. It's your fault if you got ganked on a pvp server and only want to do quests. I'm not being mean when I say this, but trying to save you some grief and the rest of the PvP community some time dealing with someone who doesn't want to play. Please, for everyone's sake, if you can't stand being ganked and don't want to learn to deal with it, play on another server!

Assuming we can both agree on the idea that pvp server's first priority is on PvP, let's emphasize a few other things. We're not "bored losers" with "nothing better to do." Again, a PvP server is for PvPing. Yes, the game has quests, raids, maybe a built in puzzle game. Whatever. We're looking for player versus player action. If you got ganked, it's because we want to play. Even a person going for the easy kills is essentially saying "Get your friends to kill me!" PvP game play is about people, not quests. If we're stopping you from questing, it's only so we can get some pvp going on. Your prize for winning is being able to do whatever grind the game developers tossed you. If you think fighting things programmed to lose and give you purple pixels is more fun than trying to beat another player, you probably shouldn't be on a pvp server. People are supposed to come first.

I've got a bit of a reputation among my guildies as a "nice griefer." I know it sounds odd, but hear me out: I really, really, really want you to bring your friends. I want you to bring your guild. Heck, I want you to bring your whole faction if that's available! I'll kill you a few times, maybe bring some friends so you think you need to bring yours, but if after awhile I can tell you don't have any connections, I'll give up. I honestly kill people so we can get something happening in the game world where people can build a reputation and, hopefully, have some long term effects on the community. World of Warcraft and Rift may not be as hardcore as Darkfall, but I remember a time when you looked at a guild tag and had an idea about if you were going to be attacked or someone on your side was going to run away at the first sign of PvP. If you don't do that on a pvp server, then something's wrong in my opinion, and sadly, more and more often this is becoming the norm.

This brings me to my final point: PvP is community driven. It's not just killing each other, even in a game like WoW where, for some reason, they don't want us talking to each other. Sure, there's trash talkers. Suck it up. Either joke with a trash talker or put them on ignore- all games give you that option. If you hate dying to a trash talker, make some friends and, pardon my French, "push his shit in." Nothing feels as good as punishing a player who doesn't seem like a good person. It's the counter balance to the griefing- people lamers in their place. You don't get that kind of high from PvE. The best RPGs fail to give me that feeling, even if the boss killed my girlfriend, family, and dog. PvP not only allows you to kill people with swords etc, but you can kill them with words. You can convert enemies to friends, friends to enemies if you or they lack social skills, earn the respect of a long time rival, declare a certain part of the game world for your friends/guild, etc. I've sold weapons to enemies so that, in future battles, maybe I can get them to help me for a few moments if need be. FFA pvp is much more conducive to this, but my guild works with some cross faction allies. We can't always talk to each other, but I love seeing them around, even when they gank me 3 to 1 when I'm questing. I'm on a pvp server. I can take my lumps. It's why I joined.

OddjobXL writes:

As a roleplayer, I love PvP servers.  For PvPers.  And I agree that if you join one you should be there to PvP.   I am a little jealous that PvP Servers, in practice, work far better than RP Servers do.  I mean, how do you disrupt PvP?  Is it even possible?  If someone annoys you for whatever reason, keeeeeel hiiiiiiim!!!!  Or run away if you can't.  Very simple.

RP depends on a cooperative state of immersion where players are imagining and writing together.  It can be pretty fragile (which is why some RPers are so touchy and even annoying about people doing OOC stuff and why they're ideal targets for griefing - it's so easy to do).  RPing in some places can be like trying to write a novel in the middle of a foodfight.   Most of us tend to like casual, non-raiding, PvE because it's "something to do" that's not too stressful or distracting not because it's a rush.  RP is the rush we're after but nobody can RP all the time!

But I get that there are different rushes.  I get my rush from creative interactions, imaginative scenes and vivid characters.  Some get their rush from matching wits and  (virtual) sinew against other players.  Some weirdos even like both!  (My favorite people are weirdos). 

I don't think I'd see the point to people being on an RP server and not roleplaying anymore than a PvPer would appreciate folks on a PvP server who aren't, well, contributing to the community.  That's what we're really talking about.  Making a place interesting.

Sun Jul 31 2011 9:32AM Report
Dengar writes:

Good to see an RPer on this one! I've done some RP myself, and the only way it feels right is with FFA PvP that lacks instancing, and not just for story reasons, but because the mechanic allows you to enforce an RP lifestyle to a degree. If someone isn't RPing, you can simply write them off as a "lunatic" and "put them out of their misery," or you can simply add them to a blacklist and for similar purposes ("Ah, that one's out of his mind. He speaks of touching mice quite often, and may get a bit excited should we face any giant rats. Better to find someone else").

Case in point: in Darkfall, my first clan was an RP clan in a non-RP alliance (that wasn't my call fyi ;P ). Some players from an allied guild were very disruptive during one of our meetings, trying to mess up some of our combat drills, so we turned the NPC towers against them and declared them KOS in the city. Since our town was in the center of the island and a hub for alliance activity, the offending players were pretty upset. It caused a bit of a ruckuss in the alliance too, but when push came to shove, their guild leader allowed us to issue the punishment: running laps around our town. It was an RP punishment that the community helped enforce to make an attempt to bring the offenders back into the fold. I honestly have never heard of that happening on a WoW server.

Sun Jul 31 2011 12:14PM Report
OddjobXL writes:

RP-PvPers usually have some interesting stories to tell.  In my experience, which doesn't include Darkfall, they do tend to be outgunned in numbers by pure PvPers in most games.  This generally hasn't gone well.  Age of Conan's PvP-RP servers are a case in point.  Eventually most folks filtered into an unofficial RP server, Wiccana, to get away from the mess.  Wiccana is now the most populated server in the game which is ironic because the RP community chose it as the name was at, or near, the bottom of the list alphabetically.

That didn't go quite as planned.

Then there was the Bonny server on Pirates of the Burning Sea.  That one I was there for personally.  Too much fighting, all the time, and very little breathing room for RP at all.  Either you were defending a port or three from blockade, attacking a port or three, or preparing for the inevitability of the next go around.  Folks just got burned out.  Population cratered.  And Bonny became the only failed unofficial RP server I know of.  She sleeps with the fishes now.

Eve Online has a very talented, but very small and tight knit, community of hardcore roleplayers that centers around Chatsubo and The Summit channel.   There's a broader group including folks like CVA and Ushra'Khan that kinda roleplays but it's more of a flagwaving thng than complex inter-character interactions.  I tend to liken it to face-painting at sports events.  Everyone gets in the stands, or forums, and chants slogans.  I know, who's to say what is roleplaying and what isn't?  But as a guy whose been doing this since the 70's I tend to know it when I see it.

One of the more itneresting arguments you hear about roleplaying in Eve Online is that, because of the way the game is designed, everybody is roleplaying whether they know it or not.  Everything you do in the game makes sense in the fiction of the setting.  What did you do today?  Mine?  Manipulate the markets?  Haul supplies?  Pirate the trade lanes?  Fight in a war?  Patrol a border or stake-out a gate?  It all "makes sense."

Also, as you point out, the freedom to stake out your own territory and make your own factions or go lone wolf as you please in FFA space, does make for some great storytelling.

To a roleplayer that does have some appeal.  I think most of us long for more immersive gameplay than exists in most MMOs.   The obvious problem for most roleplayers is that we tend to focus more on the creative aspects of roleplaying in a proactive way.  We want our characters and stories to have meaning unto themselves not just as byproducts of "shit happens."  We know we're roleplaying and we want to go here or do that with our roleplaying story arcs without outside people having veto power over us or interfering with us.

But not everybody is alike.  We all have different rushes we're chasing after.  What's important is that people coming together have some understand.  Some social contract.  Whether that's "We're here to PvP because that's fun for us" or "We're here to roleplay because that's what fun for us."  Doesn't matter.  What matters is that folks are, mostly, on the same page.  We need each other to get the most of the "massively multiplayer" thing.

Sun Jul 31 2011 7:14PM Report
Vercinorix writes:

My own viewpoint is biased by the fact that my introduction to the concept of MMO worlds was through fiction, not actually playing a game. I grew up on the cyberpunk genre and reading stories of people jacked into fully-interactive virtual worlds and actually living the experience.

Obviously we are no where near that point yet, and none of the games that I have played or heard of offer anything even remotely like a shadow of that ideal.

There are several problems with trying to RP in current MMOs. The first is that unlike paper and pencil RPGs there is just too many things that you cannot affect with your characters, and NPCs just flat out are not really interactive, because they are operating on very limited scripts.

Then throw in the social aspect. You may be a RPer, and choose a RP server. Lets say you want to get some of your IRL friends to play the game with you. They are NOT RPers, but join your server. How much of an RP server's population consists of people like that? About the best you can expect of players like that is that they won't do too much to break immersion.

Finally, how exactly do you RP people asking technical game questions in public channels? Thats impossible to do IMO.

Sat Sep 10 2011 2:44PM Report
Vercinorix writes:

@ Dengar: From my own experiences you sir are in the minority. I played on DaoC for 4 years, and played on WoW PVP servers for a couple of years. I clearly differentiate between gankers and griefers. Gankers are people who pick a fight with someone who actually has the ability to defend themselves and has a chance at killing the ganker. A griefer goes after people who have no chance.

DaoC was different in that players had the option of leveling in non-PVP areas on normal servers. If you chose to level in a pvp area, it was understood that you were deliberately taking the risk that a much higher level player was going to kill you out of hand.

In WoW (originally), you had no choice but to level in contested zones. In my time on vanilla WoW pvp servers, leveling 10 different characters on 2 different pvp servers, there was not one single time that a griefer was trying to start a bigger fight or provoke a higher level character to come and "have a real fight". These people would never stick around long enough for out of zone help to arrive.

Personally, I got into the habit of logging my cap level raiding rogue next to where my alt was leveling. I would switch to that toon if a high level toon killed my alt, then proceed to kill the offender until he or she logged. When that happened, not once did the person stick around, or come back on a different toon, or call in friends.  In other words, every griefer I encountered was just a coward with psychotic tendencies.

Eventually, my friends and I would up leaving the pvp servers because of the griefers. Why were we there in the first place you might ask? Because on release Blizzard advertised that a dishonor system would be put in place to punish griefers. Blizzard backed out on that due to whines.

To be clear, the only type of PVP activity that I ever had any issue with was griefing lower level players. Anything else was (and should be) legit.

Sat Sep 10 2011 4:00PM Report

MMORPG.com writes:
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