It's no secret that the popular MMORPGs today have fully fledged PvP systems. For some this is the be all and end all of a game, for others it is just one aspect that makes up a rounded game filled with myriad options and character paths. Getting people involved in PvP tends to involve either purchases, grinding, training or a combination of all.
What are the options for a developer looking to setup a PvP system within their game though? This article will give idea of what can be implemented, and the pros and cons for the administration and players once the game is up and running.
- Purchasing your perks - This isn't strictly the entire Pay for Perks/Free to Play genre. Often these games are balanced for everyone, offering some sort of basic skills with flavor for all, but in terms of combat everyone is rather lackluster. The administration then offers purchases with real cash that grant certain skills, benefits, offensive perks and defensive boosts, allowing the basic roleplay character to get a foothold in PvP. From a players perspective, this can be limiting, although many may see the investment into PvP as not much different to paying a subscription for a more PvP centric game, and still allowing them the immersive RP atmosphere of a roleplay focussed game.
- Grind for gear - Let's not kid ourselves, often the games that require you to be looting corpses, grinding for levels to out-bash your opponents tend to offer a very simplified PvP experience. This tends to be a system found in subscription MMORPGs that don't have quite the hardcore RP focus of other games. The combat system in these tends to rely on following prompts with each class fulfilling a specific role. It's linear, it's fun, but some people want more control, more thought in their virtual fighting.
- Strategy is key- Some MMORPGs offer (often in combination with the purchasing perks option) an in-depth class system, with each having myriad skills unique to them and then a stack of general skillsets offering defensive and utility skills available for all. With in depth factional support, this can offer the player a deeply strategic and imaginative gameplay experience, where they not only learn the ins, outs, methods and tricks of their own class but learn to work with other classes in team format. No class is specifically pigeonholed into healer, magic caster, bruiser. But all have the option to take up whatever role they like while not sacrificing personal roleplay to do so.
The first model can be nice from an organizational point of view, as it clearly separates your roleplayers from your PvPers. There are some communities who simply want to play their role, and who don't think that combat is necessary, who get uppity at any incurred losses and who have no interest in the fighting. This particular setup will ensure that the two crowds remain uninvolved with each other, so causing less administrative headaches.
The second model offers a quick learning curve, and an almost immediate platform for all players to dive into combat from, but you might need to constantly be adding more content and spoon-feeding events to the playerbase as their skills are not intricate enough to hold the interest of a smart player who wants a challenge for very long.
The third model encourages a cohesive game experience, where everyone can get into PvP if they wish. A player can be as skilled as their mind allows them to be. It often comes with some hefty administrative oversight, as the playerbase remains mingled, where the roleplayers are indistinguishable from the PvPers and occasionally things can bleed over, getting people's feathers ruffled. The learning curve can be steep, the games often have smaller hardcore playerbases, and many who enjoy the simple grinding of the second model won't find this a comfortable fit, but it can be a very rewarding experience as a developer watching your playerbase innovate with the wide variety of options given.
Whatever you choose to build, these are just some options with some concerns that come with them. No game has the same PvP system as another, no browser-based RPG offers quite the same suite of available options - many offer combinations of all of the above. In the end the game needs to be engaging and fun for your target audience. Give them that and they will come back and bring friends.
About the author:
A longtime devotee of MMORPG’s and MUDs in particular, Julian Talley has an avid interest in the different forms of PvP games can offer. When not trying to figure out the best way to take out his fellow players, he enjoys writing and rock climbing, and can usually be found doing one or the other.