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Epic Slant @ MMORPG

Articles from Epic Slant formatted for MMORPG.

Author: Ferrel_Thane

PvP Be Not Proud

Posted by Ferrel_Thane Friday June 12 2009 at 10:10AM
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I believe it was Scott Jennings who said the quickest way to get three digit comments was to write an article about PvP. I’m not sure if that will hold true on Epic Slant but I’m going to ignore his solid advice and do just that! Today I want to discuss my issues with “open PvP” and some of the myths that go along with it. Just so we’re all clear about this beforehand, (and I know some folks will ignore this disclaimer), I’m only talking about involuntary PvP. I’m not slandering RvR lakes, battlegrounds, arenas or any place where a player will knowingly go to battle others.

It continues to amaze me that more and more PvP focused games are being released. I recognize that many of these began their development cycle when everyone believed that this play style was the wave of the future but lets be honest, there are a lot of “me too” games out there for this. With the release of Age of Conan, Warhammer Online, Darkfall, and PvP MMO 12 Bravo, it has become clear that the market isn’t as big as imagined. Most of the games are niche titles with the exception of Warhammer Online. War is doing average for an MMO but it certainly isn’t the “million account” RvR powerhouse that everyone anticipated and I’m willing to bet a decent amount of players remain there for the generally well done PvE portion of the game. Why don’t these games gain on WoW then?

The biggest reason, in my eyes, is that there are a lot more of us who like PvP as a side dish than as the main course despite what online polls and forums say. In EQ1 we had a name for the PvP crowd: Vocal Minority. PvE players rarely stand up and demand that their play style be supported. Most of us always assumed that it would be there. It also doesn’t help that when we’re on forums doing just that we get shouted down. PvP is also the new “elite” of the MMO world and that can easily put off the casual MMO player. It can be denied but that group is what largely makes up the vast WoW audience. I’m not the sharpest spoon in the drawer but I can recognize trends. If you take the entire player base from ever PvP focused American MMO I’m not sure you’d even pass a million players and you certainly would exceed two million.

Beyond the demographic issue there is one massive flaw in all PvP systems: you need willing players, in equal amounts, at all times. MMOs are running 24 hours a day and if there is nobody to fight they quickly lose their appeal. I truly believe that massive wars will never happen in games due to just this reason. Look at Warhammer Online. Point out to me how many equal force large scale battles occur. In the six or so months I played barely any ever happened. One side usually had overwhelming force during certain hours. During other hours the other side did. The “war” was basically tug of war based on time, not skill. I love the idea behind the system. It just doesn’t work when players can be active at all times. Of course this truth and the lack of numbers are usually shouted down by the “skill” issue.

That is at the heart of what I want to get at and why I truly dislike involuntary PvP: skill. I have been before and will be called so again a carebear. This is what involuntary PvP advocates throw around as an insult. It essentially means I am a less skilled, less hardcore MMO player because I’m not willing to take the risks of an open world. If I had skills I’d be able to defend myself and everything would be good! Right? Wrong! In MMO PvP skills do not have that large of an impact. There are simply too many variables. You have level disparity, gear disparity, class disparity, numbers disparity and about twenty other disparities that I’ve written about in the past. The only true test of skill would be if two players were the exact same class, build, level, and had the same gear. That never happens though and, truly, those people who use the term carebear don’t really want the challenge of even matched PvP battles. They seem more interested in ganking.

I accept that I’ve just made a broad generalization but who hasn’t found it to be accurate? Ganking is exactly why I don’t like PvP. When I played on a PvP WoW server I had fun as long as I was fighting in my level range. Unfortunately, however, 90% of my time PvPing was me being destroyed by multiple max level characters. Many games have tried to have “reputation systems” and “consequences” but thus far nobody has made the negatives of those systems outweigh the enjoyment of gankers. Even in controlled systems you’ll find ganking. When PvP tiers are set up with 10 levels each it is not surprising to see that the people at the very top target the people at the very bottom. It is good strategy of course but call it what it is. Being 10 levels higher than someone else and destroying them isn’t skills.

So what is the bottom line here? Essentially this is just a call to developers. A studio will never succeed in making an open PvP world until you can deal with the issue of the ganker. They are real. Simply pulling a rug over that issue won’t make it go away.

The easiest method by which to mitigate the damage of the ganker is to contain PvP to known areas which, of course, means there isn’t open PvP. This can be done through battlegrounds, arenas, and specific PvP zones. Even a carebear like me can handle being ganked if I know I’m heading onto their turf.

A less popular but very effective method is to limit the level ranges in which players can compete. This is usually a 10 level difference (which I think is too much) but at least you don’t have max level characters running around level 30 zones destroying everyone of the opposing side.

Ensure that everyone has -some- friends. When you have to watch your back from literally everyone I think the game becomes more and more niche. It is good to know that at least your own race/class/faction stab you in the back when you turn around.

Finally, my last advice is more for PvP in general: don’t base your game on it. I know I’ll be shouted down but the last run of MMOs seem to bare out the theory that more people say they want PvP than actually do. PvP can be a big part of a game but if developers count on that as the main feature to keep players subscribed they’re setting themselves up for a smaller market. PvP isn’t “always changing.” It isn’t an excuse for less content. I really like Warhammer Online but saying that doing the same battleground for the 25th time is more dynamic than running the same dungeon the 25th time isn’t fair. Yes, the players change but the classes all pretty much act the same. There were plenty of repeat performances.

PvP is here to stay and I’m all for that. I really do enjoy it as a diversion from my PvE experience. I just think we need to look at ways to improve the systems we have and stop basing games on it. What do you think? I’m ready for the tide of pro PvP comments!

Originally posted on Epic Slant.

Einstein-DF writes:

How about you go back to WOW! :P

Fri Jun 12 2009 10:37AM Report
Vinterkrig writes:

WOW! Thats all I can really say to the article.

First of all, most people who are centered around pvp do want a challenge. Don't mistaken the people who like to "zerg" fight high #s against low #s or high vs high , as pvp centric people... they aren't

They are low skilled, bad players that typically button mash and have no concept of how to play a game.

Also, proving points on pvp with a game like Warhammer is also bad on your part, and a majority of the people playing the game aren't there for the pve (if you haven't noticed its STILL easy to level strictly threw "PVP" in Warhammer, because oh wow.. people are doing scenerios almost 24/7

People like WoW because of the social aspect of it, the raid gear they get (for more or less no reason, as they just wait for a new raid dungeon for new raid gear) has little to no real purpose

They set it off, non interuptable casting, healers that can outheal a tank train, no need for casters to really pre-kite or kite, they'll just sit there get heals and tank it out, while casting spells (oh wow they might get a slight knockback in cast time,,, woopty)

You obviously have no clue, and self admit more or less to being called a carebear without any reason to fight it......

yet you will comment on PVP????

I hate PVE, I struggle threw it.. I drink as much as possible, smoke too many cigs, and almost quit the game because I could care less about kill 10 wolves, or 10 giant frogs... it makes no sense, what did I really accomplish....

you know what you accomplished?


Though I can promise you no AI bot will ever beat me in PVP. And I can promise you that over the past oh, most of my life I've been playing anything PVP related (muds on BBS?) I've felt more accomplished in my feats then you have, getting that awesome looking pve gear that'll never be used correctly!

PVP is more the a nitche, companies aren't getting games together right due to bad information coming back from people like you, that have no clue about the mechanics that make pvp so wonderful in some games


get a clue before you write about something you don't even like

Fri Jun 12 2009 12:03PM Report
Amanautor writes:

Ferrel, disregard the posts above. has never been represenative of the average mmo player so most replies will be totally biased.


@ Vinterkrig: A PvE game can be made far more challenging and rewarding than the currect crop of mmos. It's just noone has evolved the AI and tactics beyond the old Everquest 1 formula. That doesn't mean that pve>pvp or anything like that, to each to his own, this is not about how better pve gamers are. Ferel is talkign about the true FFA or even RvR game mechanics that are not properly introduced to games and which on their own cannot support an mmo.

I agree almost completely with you. You can't base a game SOLELYon PVP and hope you attract enough players. It can't hold its ground on its own but it does spice things up.

I too play WAR and the continuous zerging is ruining open RvR. Only when I join scenarios do I participate in fair pvp that allows players to show their skill. Without a third side to balance things, open RvR is pretty much pointless.

In Darkfall, the bigger alliances destroy the smaller one with ease. Small ganking groups taking out sole harvesters are common. Thats why walking around nude is also common in DF.

In AoC, graveyard (ress spot) camping ruined the game for a lot of people.

And as if this is not enough, all the game announced for the near future except perhaps for the new Star Wars mmo are primarily pvp games! Some of them are also very similar to each other, for example Mortal Online seems very much alike Darkfall... But can two games of the same type survive in the mmo market today? 

And all this is happening while no primarily PvE games are being developed. Sure there is WoW and EQ2 but come on, there is room for a serious, harder-than-average grouping and raiding mmo. But I can't say the same for pvp games.

It's like,

an mmo game is like a steak. The meat of the game is the PVE. But the seasoning is the PvP. As the meat is bland without salt and pepper, so is an mmo game without any form of pvp. And at the same you can't dine on the seasoning alone. The base of the game has to be pve, with pvp to spice it up, and they both have to be pretty damn good to satiate both groups.

PS: Fun facts

If my memory serves, the poll in this site for "do you prefer pve or pvp games showed that the majority of people even in here prefered strong PvE with a healthy dose of PvP. The same goes for other polls I have seen in other site (for example in runes of magic).

Excuse my poor grammar, not a native speaker. :) Peace out

Fri Jun 12 2009 7:58PM Report
InternetOwl writes:

PVP is almost always against equal lvl geared players. Nice myth that I guess makes you so awesome when you beat them. I have played on wow rp-pvp servers since it came out. Also WAR and AOC. I like the threat of other players comming at me. And I (almost) never attack a 'grey' lvl character -  one who is too low to be a threat. But thats me. And I am not alone its true. But the MAJORITY of players who pvp don't act like that. They kill anything in their path. They camp low lvl's for no reason. You get nothing and they lose nothing. You just both waste your time. Ands since nothing happens to them when they die there is no way to effectively discourage this even if high lvl's come to aid the lowbies.

Want to know what happens when two equal lvls come over the hill and bump into each other in WoW? They back off and usually wave while they try to figure out who has the advantage and/or will attack.  They DON'T go at each other like rabid dogs. Not the same if a high lvl bumps into a low lvl. I don't play RISK with one side having an unlimited number of men to the others 2 per territory. Its not fun. But I guess for some it is. Makes them tough.

Here's a thought.  Most of these hardcore pvper's who are so awesome cause they kill toons wouldn't think a Chess Master is tough or awesome. Yet it takes more skill (to say the least) and is in many ways the first pvp game out there. Think about it.

I like pvp. As I said I enjoy the thrill of the others toons being a threat. But open pvp is a real mixed bag that in the end is not for everyone at all and certainly is not fair most of the time. For pvp to have meaning it has to be contolled in some ways. I remember the howls of anguish when Conan said it would add a penalty system to the game for killing low lvls. Its just not pvp unless its completely unrestricted pvp said most on the forums. Well if your idea of a game is an 80 killing a 1 st lvl over and over then rock on. And if you think that that is not the majority of thing going on on pvp servers you need to look again. I think PVP is great and is really fun when it works, but games have to look at adding some rules and boundries to make that happen cause like the free market, complete unrestricted freedom is not always a good thing.  ;) 

Fri Jun 12 2009 10:04PM Report
Ferrel_Thane writes:

Those are about the responses I expected ^_~

I appreciate the comments folks!

Mon Jun 15 2009 6:42AM Report
daltanious writes:

Agree nearly completely. Especially, citing, when you say:

"Beyond the demographic issue there is one massive flaw in all PvP systems: you need willing players, in equal amounts, at all times. MMOs are running 24 hours a day and if there is nobody to fight they quickly lose their appeal. I truly believe that massive wars will never happen in games due to just this reason."

About "hardcore pvp" ... more then this .. pvp servers seems to me place for all psychos arround the globe. Sickos that enjoy ganking 10 times lower levels .... if game has not some mechanism with heavy penalties. If they think they are "heroes" because the "pvp" ... they should engage with higher levels ... not lower levels. Actually ... majority are loosers with problem inside head.

Mon Jun 15 2009 8:46AM Report
Daedalus732 writes:

"pvp servers seems to me place for all psychos arround the globe. Sickos that enjoy ganking 10 times lower levels"


Seriously, are you like the biggest loser in real life that dying in a computer game at the hands of another person automatically makes those people "psychos" and "sickos" with "problem inside head"? (Note I did not correct your spelling error but am aware of it nevertheless)

I'm so tired of being slandered by QQing babies because I want to play a game that gives me the freedom to do what I want, when I want, with minimal restrictions on my actions. Maybe YOU'RE happy with the linear, hold-handing, carebear games that are constantly being released to the market (even those supposedly PVP games like WAR and AoC are still carebearish), but I'm not. So many morons are content to pay for MMOs that are nothing more than expensive chat rooms for chuck norris jokes and sexual comments. I'll never understand that mentality, and I don't want to understand it. I'm an adult and am quite through with the stupid and the vulgar from teenage yuppies who are little more than a waste of DNA and consumers of precious resources.

Please note that when you remove WoW fromt he equation, the most popular MMOs are the ones with the most open PVP and freedom for players. That's not to say a good PVE game does not have a place amongst them, but when's the last time an MMO made a truly unique PVE experience? 

I'm an adult. Give me an adult MMO with real consequences and where success actually means something. I don't need to pretend I'm special in a virtual world and we shouldn't be reinforcing that garbage "everyone is a winner" mentality.

Sun Jul 05 2009 10:41PM Report
Ferrel_Thane writes:

"Please note that when you remove WoW fromt he equation, the most popular MMOs are the ones with the most open PVP and freedom for players. "

This is actually inaccurate given subscription numbers. PvP focused MMOs frequently struggle with account numbers. Even the most recent game, Warhammer Online, has never really exceeded the 400,000 mark. They make good niche games but they're not, in any way, "the most popular" in a measurable way. Perhaps in forum support they seem that way but the PvP community is very vocal.

Mon Jul 06 2009 2:28PM Report writes:
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