Ultima Online, Darkfall, EVE Online and the upcoming pvp-base MMO: Mortal Online that is about to enter closed beta testing. What do these games have in common? They all have severe penalties for PvP losses. Free for all looting is slowly creeping back into the MMO scene that had been phased out in recent years, it was the main attraction for Darkfall Online. World of Warcraft pvp penalties were a joke and so is Warhammer’s, but the rewards were very high which made pvp attractive. When I played FFXI PvP is almost non-existent and most other games had either sanctioned pvp or open pk with no real downside.
I like the risk you take when you venture where you’re not supposed to be and there is a possibility of being wtfpwned by the opposing faction. It adds excitement and a sense of accomplishment to the game. Darkfall seems to be taking it to the extreme case and the new Mortal Online might follow suit. Regardless of what you read about Darkfall, love it or hate it; it brought back the risk that Ultima Online had when it was popular. You might be able to switch to your skivvies in time if you get ganked, why would you want to lose equipment or items to someone who just lives to kill people. That’s the price you pay when you decide to reside on a pvp server or a pvp focused game.
I didn’t realize that EVE Online’s pvp was so steep, there is no consensual pvp. If you are not involved with factional warfare, intercrop warfare or if you are caught in a gate camp or stealthganked you will lose all. There is no macro-switching to take of equipment or take out implants, just take it as a man and recoup your losses. I am saying this from experience, being a rookie EVE player I have learned some harsh lessons. But I just suck it up as a learning curve and move on.
Being the adventurous entrepreneur I decided that High-Security systems just weren’t for me, not profitable enough. I found my new home and corporation in a mid-sec sector 0.5 amongst lower-sec surroundings. So I decide to run a trade route out in a low-sec area, I promptly run into my first gate camp with an empty can and find myself being podded (killed). I didn’t cry; I just learned some lessons. Going into a low-sec area is a gamble and like every time you gamble be prepared to lose, and lose everything. That’s is rule number one for anyone stepping into vegas with a pocketful of cash looking for a payoff, try you best to win but be prepared to lose.
But it didn’t stop me, I found myself another time being chased by some pirate in a way stronger ship than I had while mining in a low-sec area. He was relentless, I managed 5 warp jumps until he finally caught up with me and eventually killed me; my warp stabs had just run outta room. I just sat there while this guy pounded my low end, unequipped mining ship. I said to myself, “wow, he must be enjoying this.” After I returned in my clone I promptly bought another clone and another low-end miner. All in all, his tirade cost me about 1 million isk. It takes time to build up this type of money and time is money in my real world, everything accounted for.
Now that doesn’t seem like a lot, but as you ramp it up to more expensive ships and equipment you are looking into the hundred million isk range. That is a staggering amount of money for me RIGHT NOW; it might change as I grow in status and financial position. This got me to think, he didn’t ask for money, didn’t get any good equipment from killing me; what was his payoff to killing me? Satisfaction was the only one I could think of.
In my humble opinion satisfaction is the ultimate payoff for all pvp. I’ve read numerous stories of the “revenge gank” or the guild war to redeem someone from getting corpse-camped. That is all about the satisfaction of retribution. At the end of the day, people enjoy 1-upping a fellow man and get a great deal of satisfaction out of “melting someone’s face”.
Face-melting is an art-form, I know many players that forego any and all pve content to gear themselves solely for the sake of blasting another human being. You’re going to win some and lose some, which is the price they pay. And I have to say, it is fun as heck to go up against someone better than you are and win. Winning always feels better than losing, but losing is inevitable. Is it possible to win 100% of the time? That would become no challenge and the challenge is what makes pvp fun, consistent winning is good but eventually that gets played out.
Losing is the worst price to pay during pvp’ing. Admit it, when you compete against someone and come close to winning until something happens and you see your character dead on the floor. Two things just happened there, one person was made to feel the pain of loss and one got bragging rights over the loser. Cha-ching, the tradeoff. That is a personal price to pay in any competition, someone looking at you and in your head they are saying, “he sucks, I pwned his arse.” Not fun, but its part of the price of trying your luck at building your ego.
I fell in love with pvp in video games during my first few matches of Quake multiplayer. Sure other players had mods for rocket launchers and grappling hooks, but the occasional newbie like myself that felt the wrath of my shotgun go booyah gave me some redemption. It was at that point that I decided that online games were for me, and it’s been that way ever since. I will play the occasional single player RPG, but I always try to stay online with other human beings. Not only for the camaraderie but also the competition as well, even gear based pvp is fun.
What is gear based pvp? It is simply, the competitiveness of having more material (or in this case virtual) gains than the next person. I know of alot of materialistic players, there are even games solely comprised of the materialism mechanic; this is where life imitates art. Has anyone ever come up to you, checked out your equipment and made some snarky comment? Happens to the best of us; you brush it them off as being a jerk but silently brood over your lack of whatever it was you were missing. Making a secret pact to yourself to improve your gear and rub it is their face next time. Maybe I’m going a little overboard here, but this is what I have witnessed in my travels in the Virtua-verse; the virtual world is not far removed from the habits of the real.
Any game you play has a competitive element, it’s what makes your play meaningful and creating the sense of enjoyment when the reward button is pressed. Whether your layeth the smacketh down on another human being, or being the first one to drop a new boss or even find that new area while exploring being the first of anything provides a sense of accomplishment and competition. MMORPG’s are set up that any thing you do in game will create a sense of meaning and release some brain-chemical to keep you coming back to this particular game. And having other players regard you with a sense of respect is one of the meaningful elements that all mmorpg’s are based off of. Without the human element, we are all just playing a single player game. That is a different scenario entirely but is changing in the format of XBLA cooperative game content.
I realize that some have called for deeper penalties for pvp losses, some from those that don’t value pvp at all. If you don't care about losing in pvp then there is no meaning for you. Whether or not deeper experience point penalties are put in place will not make pvp any more or less meaningful. If it comes to losing money in equipment, ships, political influence or a status title during pvp that provides meaning but is not the only penatly. When we lose we lose, it creates a negative feeling and takes away some of the meaning of our efforts; it’s the risk we take for a chance at the reward of winning.
That is what makes winning all the sweeter.
Have fun, play safe and melt a face today.