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An Ongoing Tribute to my own lameness.....

General random thoughts about gaming, both within and outside of the MMO genre.

Author: Jimmy_Scythe

FFA PvP Part 1: What It Is And Where I Stand.

Posted by Jimmy_Scythe Wednesday February 13 2008 at 8:46PM
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It's that time of year again, apparently, and we're seeing the resurrection of the FFA PvP controversy. The good news is that the FFA PvP crowd has taken to bumping dead threads rather than flooding the boards with the same old crap. The bad news is that the tone is still "elitist douche" cranked up to a volume of eleven.

For those of you that haven't been around the MMORPG boards for very long, FFA PvP stands for Free For All Player vs. Player. I can see that you may still be confused at this point so I'll break down the elements that define FFA PvP into a couple of bullet points.

  • The ability to attack any player, any where, at any time, regardless of guild or faction affiliation. This means you can kill a person in your own faction, guild, party, whatever. More extreme advocates of FFA PvP don't believe that you should have any safe zones where you can be safe from attack either.
  • Player looting. This is actually the key to the whole controversy. FFA PvP players want to be able to take everything from a player that they just killed. Random drops or losing everything that wasn't equipped is not good enough. FFA PvP demands that you be able to take everything that the person is carrying. It's bad taste to bring it up, but many FFA PvP players wouldn't mind the ability to butcher the body of the fallen for meat, leather and bone that they can use to fashion trophies from.

And that's pretty much it. People that advocate FFA PvP want to kill you on a whim and take all your stuff. This means that lvl 50 characters mowing down lvl 1s in the starting area is fair game. Corpse Camping is fair game. Team killing is fair game. Zerging is fair game. Any combination of the aforementioned is fair game. In fact, just about every activity that a normal person considers to be griefing, is fair game under this system.

Sounds like fun.... Doesn't it?....

In my own opinion, MMORPGs are horrible games for PvP of any kind. Whether you're using a skill based system or working with levels, it almost always comes down to who has the highest DPS and most HP. You can add buffs and pots in there, but the strategy is paper thin and can be worked out on a pocket calculator. It's very rare, so rare that I've never seen, someone display momentary genius by utilizing the game mechanics / elements in a novel way. To me this seems like the antithesis of competition.

PvP is best when you're on a level playing field, more or less.... I'm going to use Street Fighter 2 as an example since I believe that it holds a standard of competitive excellence that all PvP multiplayer games should aspire to. Each character in the game has specific strengths and weaknesses. Some characters are fast but weak (Vega), while others are very strong and slow (Zangief). Some combos are profoundly useless ( Chun Li's fireball), while others are an invitation cheapness (Guile's Flash Kick). The catch here is that all players have equal access to all the characters and the more skillful player will understand how to fully exploit their opponent's weaknesses while playing their own strengths. You see this kind of trade off in any good competitive multiplayer game. TF2, BF2, Rocket Arena, Starcraft, Red Alert 2, Advanced Wars, etc., they all boil down to game knowledge and clever, read: skillful, use of the resources given to a player.

MMORPGs on the other hand..... It's basically about who's toon has the highest stats and best gear. In GvG, it boils down to which side has the largest number of max'd out toons. In other games, skill isn't really something that you can calculate on a spreadsheet. If this were true, someone would have already made a mint off of sports gambling. With MMORPGs however, the game is just shy of actually being a spreadsheet.

So my stance is that I don't really take PvP in MMORPGs seriously because it has nothing to do with skill and everything to do with stacking the numbers MASSIVELY in your favor. FFA PvP takes this idea to the absolute extreme and is therefore even more of a joke. Why would you take a genre that's already horribly imbalanced for PvP and then handicap it IN FAVOR OF veteran players?

I'm not afraid of a fair fight, so I'll "PvP" in genres that were actually built for competition. Maybe once they make an MMORPG that has combat more like a fighting game, I'll actually check it out. BTW, AoC doesn't count since the combos are basically just placeholders for what would otherwise be hot buttons. The game actually walks you through combos during combat!!!

I'm making this a series of articles because there's usually a domino effect with this issue. You knock down one argument and then you have to beat the next dead horse in line and so on. I'm not really sure how many parts this is going to run so I'm just leaving it open until I'm satisfied that I've touched on all the bases and at least given a foundation to those that actually read this.

Next week I'll be discussing the common arguments in favor of FFA PvP and giving my own response to each one. Be warned: it's going to be a long post.

Until then...

elvenangel writes:

... As a veteran player I have to say spot on.  I've always been more for teaching the new how to work in the game and vehenmantly opposed to FFAPvP.   While I enjoy good sporting PvP where the consquences are maybe some points and a bit of pride anything more serious like permadeath & loss of loot to me is just not a good mechanic for MMOs where community is actually key.

I look forward to your next blog on the subject!

Wed Feb 13 2008 10:22PM Report
Sheista writes:

I think the real problem is that no current game has been able to implement the system properly.  I always go back to Asheron's Call 1 when talking about a system done right... however unintentional their PvP was.

The ability to kill a player twice your level due to being better at dodging/manipulating the system worked.  It was never meant to be that way, but it happened and it worked.  Top it off with partial looting based on item value allowed people to prepare for the fact that they were going to get looted - IE; death items.. purposely carrying items that had higher cash value than what they wore, or by simply wearing items that wouldn't drop on death - note, these items were usually less useful than items that one would wear if not PvPing.

To be honest, I would rather a game come out that gives people the option of being fully PvP flagged for -long- periods of time, than a game that has full PvP all the time.  While I never played on the all PvP server Darktide, PvP still worked well on the normal servers.  Players did a quest and were then turned PvP-enabled until they did another mini-quest to turn non-PvP again.  It created a much smaller knit community that was still just as devoted to PvPing as people on the full-PvP server.

It allowed me to level up to roughly 70 and turn PvP permanently through the mini-quest, and still be able to compete with those twice my level... VOLUNTARILY.  That's the problem with current games is that they either force you into a PvP situation, or they don't give you enough reward for choosing to PvP as your way of gaming.  It worked so well that I stayed perma-PvP until the introduction of PK-lite, which practically ruined PvP for the game on normal servers due to the taking away of the penalties, however minor, of normal PvP.

Without penalties, you get WoW, and with too harsh of penalties you get too small of a community who enjoys that portion of the game.

A company needs to just give players a choice.  Let them PvE in peace if they want.. I don't want to kill those players.  I want to kill the players who want to kill me.  The ones who will provide the best challenge and want to be in that situation.

Wed Feb 13 2008 11:54PM Report
baal/mrheat writes:

Jimmy Scythe you have obious ZERO experience of FFA PvP.....

 

Aint it quite pathetic to write such a thing if u dont know anything about it... it would be like i would write a essay on brain surgery....

 

FFA PvP in ultima online had NOTHING to do with the one who had most  hp or highest dps.... it was 100% timing and tactics.

And because the game had FULL loot, it got balanced, it is risk vs reward....

 

Just like Darkfall will be.... www.darkfallonline.com

Thu Feb 14 2008 4:33AM Report
smugglapro writes:

This is the nightmare of PvP debates that follow this specific vein.

 

Fact of the matter is, if you're in a gear based game, this IS a bad thing.

If you're in a level-based game....this IS a bad thing.

However, if you're in a non-gear based, non-level based game, that provides a "realistic" consequence to anti-social behavior, this isn't such a big deal.  Now notice I didn't say "not a big deal at all'.  Just like in RL, if you give that kind of freedom to a player-base, you're going to get griefersGriefers should be dealt with like they, hopefully, would be in RL.  By self-defense or by community intervention.  By CI, I mean that someone is there or comes along to bring a reckoning to those that seek to grief.

However, bringing down all FFA-PvP in "every" circumstance is tantamount to making grand, generalized statements that do nothing but vent frustration and irritate those that would, can, and DO PvP with something other than "me kill everyone, even lil nooblets" mindset.

Only a blind fool thinks of things like this in absolutes.

Thu Feb 14 2008 4:44AM Report
Mennovh writes:
It really seems many people in the MMORPG community are against FFA-PvP. The only reason I can see this as being is because many players are used to playing games that are of an item based or level based system. These systems will not work for a good balanced PvP system. I feel the author is biased in his opinion from playing games like WoW, EQ, Shadowbane, and the later days of UO. In these games items and/or levels created a huge advantage for players who attacked players of a lower level. 
              
Now let’s take a system that was balanced to an extent and look at it.  The early days of UO were the best days for many MMORPG players. This was a FFA-PvP game in its truest form from when the game went gold till the stat-loss patch. In a few days a player could be close to 7x and be a viable force to play the game. A player with mastered (as in 90 skill points) magery and swords could still take on a player with GM’ed skills if he was skilled enough at the game. Hell I remember times in playing the game of taking on groups of 3-4 players at one time during the opening stages. The game was balanced and yes the game also had its FoTM’s but these weren’t overpowered to the point where they were game breaking.  
 
The items in this game were not a determining factor as well. It didn’t really matter what weapons you used to play with because they were all well balanced. Also another great thing about the game is if you died in a fight or someone griefed you, it didn’t matter because everything you had obtained could be replaced in a matter of no time. Please do not write an article on a prominent site when you are very ignorant to the fact MMO’s can be balanced in a PvP fashion.  Maybe you should have written an article based upon the fact people got too emotional when they were killed as a newer player. It was the rage and feeling of lost time people had when they were PK’ed because they hadn’t played the game long enough to be as good as the player who put in the time. 
              
Let’s look at it this way. Say you logged onto Counter Strike for the first time and started playing the game. You’re running around with your glock and turn a corner and boom someone kills you with an AK. That is pretty frustrating because they had a bigger gun then you, body armor and grenades when all you had was your little hand gun and no skill playing the game. But if you had a skilled player with just the handgun and the newbie with the AK and body armor the skilled player would win that battle 99 out of 100 times. So don’t say an MMORPG can’t be balanced for PvP because you were killed looted and decapitated and you just couldn’t handle it emotionally. Because remember it’s just a game. 
 
MMORPGS should be skill based upon the player and not upon the level, items, or amount of anything they have.  I hate to say this, but a game needs to be developed in this type of setting so it can change the industry away from the PvE grindfest with PvP as a side thought mentality. One game, Darkfall is being developed that following this type of mentality. I hope for the industry as a whole this game does become successful so developers can start taking risks in trying new things with MMO’s instead of making another Everquest clone.  Don’t get me wrong, I had fun playing Everquest the first time, but its not as much fun when I played its sequels, DAOC, WoW, AO, EQ2, Vanguard, Ect, Ect…
 
I think you are biased against FFA-PvP because of the small population of players as termed “griefers.”   Every single game you play out there, you will encounter this type of player. If you had actually played Old UO you would have known there was much more to this game then the occasional griefer in the game. You probably just forgot all the goodness that was in the FFA-PVP type of world because you remember the negative emotions much more prominatly from the number of times you were killed looted and decapitated. 
 
With FFA-PvP you had the anti-PK guilds, the PK guilds, the neutral guilds, the policing guild and the gank squads everywhere, all in a harmony in a system that worked. You had a system where players could play any role they wished to play because they had the option of doing so. They weren’t limited, and that my friend is the beauty of a FFA-PvP system. Without limits you make the game what you want to make it and therein lies the wonderful aspect of what an MMORPG can really offer. Not a story line you have to follow, or kill this many boars and receive so much gold, or kill this epic mob and receive the golden chalice of awesomeness. We don’t need more games like this, we have plenty of those. Don’t blame the FFA-PvP rule set; blame yourself for letting the Players in the GAME get in your head. 
 
 
Thu Feb 14 2008 9:55AM Report
Uzik writes:

^ Hit it right on.

 

Saying that FFA PvP is not suited for MMORPGs is like saying physical contact is not suitable for all sports. 

Despite the fact that many people newer to the MMO scene are playing cookie-cutter games, there is actually a huge variety of types of MMORPGs.  And you cannot make blanket statements about which systems don't work for MMORPGs as a whole.

Would FFA PvP work for WoW?  Of course not.  But this does not mean that it wouldn't work for other games.  Especially ones that are designed around this concept as a central part of the game.

The main problem is that PvP is looked at as an after thought in most recent games, not a major aspect of the game.

But the simple show that the writer of this blog cited FPS games as ideal PvP really takes away any credibility that he has to speak on this topic.

Thu Feb 14 2008 10:33AM Report
BadSpock writes:

Behave people. Scyth is a vet poster here and an intelligent one at that, don't flame for the sake of flaming.

FFA PvP only "works" if the community is there.

The "lone wolf" will always be the victim. I hated the FFA PvP in UO until I joined up with a large guild. Garaunteed protection and friends who wouldn't grief you. It completely changed the game for me.

If everyone who played was garaunteed a good guild to run with and some teammates to support them, FFA PvP is actually not that FFA, but instead factional. It will break down in Guild vs. Guild or Faction vs. Faction, but there will always be those without a guild or faction to align themselves with, and they will always be the victim or victimize others. 

That is why FFA PvP was pretty much abandoned long ago and Faction or Guild based PvP has become the "norm." It garauntees support and belongingness, and help eliminate the "random PK" factor which can (and will) ruin the game.

Open world (i.e. non instanced/balanced teams) PvP is generally all about strength in numbers. Sure, player skill, terrain, preparedness etc. will always help, but no matter those factors 30 vs 10 I'm always putting my money on the team of 30.

Griefing someone for no reason, which I define as "killing someone who has absolutely zero chance of defending themselves" just to be a d*ck and kill them is childish. The more that can be done to prevent this, the better. Even in a "FFA" game, measures SHOULD be taken to prevent vets from slaughtering noobs.

Vets  who kill noobs are cowards. This is not an argument, it is fact. They blah blah blah about "Real PvP and challenge" but ganking/griefing is not real PvP, nor is it challening, it's a pathetic practice by insecure *ssholes who are too scared and cowardly to start a fair fight. Their bullys. Sad, lonely bullys. 

Real PvP, just to let you know, is a fair fight or a fight where one party/person has a slight advantage, but the possibility of loss is always there. Ganking/griefing create NO possibility of loss, and are thus NOT real PvP. It's cowardice.

Most FFA PvP i have ever seen ends up being faction/guild vs. faction/guild anyway, it's just the few *sshats who are bored/unguilded etc. will greif/gank random noobs to feel better about themselves, and it's always pathetic.

In terms of full looting, it only "works" when gear is easily replaced and their is no "uber" gear. Like old Ultima Online. Full looting simple will not work in item centric games, nor will ever be attempted by any game that is item centric. Item centric + full loot = bankrupt devs and server shut down. 

The closest I think we'll ever see in a modern, AAA title to FFA PvP is games with faction vs. faction and Guild vs. Guild. Any faction member can kill any one of an opposite faction at any time, any where. Any guild can declare war on any other guild, no matter the faction, and those guilds can kill each other any time, any where.

That is as close as I believe we'll see to true FFA in any future released AAA title. 

Look at EVE, the only remaining mostly FFA PvP game. The majority of the uber-awesome exciting PvP people talk about is Corp vs. Corp. Corps are allowed to choose who they war with. But you also have ganker/griefer pilots who ruin the game for others because they are too scared to join the big conflicts, fight fairly, and risk losing their precious stuff.

Thu Feb 14 2008 10:54AM Report
Uzik writes:

Firstly, being a veteran poster does no qualify one to make broad bases assumptions on what game mechanics are fit for MMORPGs.

Additionally, you are still looking at FFA PvP in an item based/level based setting rather than skill based.

Consider the multiplayer achievements in CoD4 for a minute.  You may get certain rewards and gear for playing the game a lot, but you can still get schooled just as easily by a skilled n00b with his crappy starting gun.

In a game that removes the level and item restrictions from PvP, you will not have the same worry of "vet" players coming in and destroying n00bs.

Also, your assumption about needing a guild is completely based on solely your own playstyle.  I played the Asheron's Call Darktide (open pvp and looting) server for years with no affiliations and was still able to completely enjoy the game.  Just because you need to rely on a friendly zerg to save you from PvP doesn't mean that everyone else does.

Disputing this on these forums is pointless though as no one here is even close to being qualified enough to comment on the topic.  From the sounds of it you guys would be more qualified for Hello Kitty Online than any other MMO.  I mean, it sure sounds to me like you want to completely remove any risks from the game.

 

Thu Feb 14 2008 1:09PM Report
spacebot writes:

Um , physical contact isn't suitable for all sports. Ie you don't want to touch that speed skater next to you or you might both go down.

I found the blog to have some insights many of you ffa-pvp folks are not seeing, or just dismissing.

Many of his 'broad assumptions' I've seen hit the mark in many games.

 

 

Fri Feb 15 2008 1:08PM Report
grimfall writes:

Uzik,

You're  a greifer.  He meant for non-griefers.

What I can't understand if you people really want 'fair' PVP, why not just play shooters?  Team Fortress 2 has classes and it's free.  There's no loot and no skills, so why don't you play that?

Sun Feb 17 2008 8:38AM Report
eric_w66 writes:

I've never seen people be more "Carebear" than the hardcore PvPer in an MMORPG. They never fight unless they'll win 99.9999% of the time. How much of a pansy can you get? Even normal PvE is more risky. And yes, I've PvP'd in pretty every game MMO or otherwise. Guess which genre requires the least amount of skill to kill an opponent? MMORPG! They are totally not suited for it. Skill based or class based, gear based or not, it is as the blogger said, all about stacking things in your favor to such a ridiculous degree that the outcome is preordained. Where's the skill in that? Bringing 5 friends and sitting at a gate in Eve is skill? Bringing 5 friends and waiting at a zone line or outside a dungeon is skill? Nope. Care. Bear.

This wouldn't be an issue if the devs of these games would just ignore the FFA PvP (leave the pvp for arenas and other somewhat more fair and consentual places) altogether, but the the hardcore PvPer whines so much about that 'Ideal Perfect PvP game' and how X game should be that game, that they give in and try to make a game based on an impossible concept. Every PvPer has a different concept of that Ideal Perfect PvP game and you can never satisfy them. They're also the first to leave a game for greener pastures for their sociopathic impulses.

Devs! Stop giving in to the whiners! Make a great game, ignore the open/FFA PvP until the great game is finished! You'll never be able to balance your game correctly for PvP anyways, might as well have a fun PvE game first! (And don't balance the PvE side when you make changes to the PvP side! Yes, that means two sets of code for combat etc, but hey, that's the price you pay for wanting to be like counterstrike in an RPG system.)

Sun Feb 17 2008 12:01PM Report
UnSub writes:

The part of this article I agreed with most is the comment that FFA PvP "strategy is paper thin". One argument that keeps getting thrown around for FFA PvP is that it adds depth or tactical play to a MMO. From my experience, that's not true at all. Most of the time it's either a massive display of brute force that carries the day (i.e. the max lvl who ganks those beneath him, the large squad that crushes a small team) or the tactics are rote learned and rote executed (i.e. lock down, send the meatshields in, sneak attack, taunt, etc).  

At the very top end of the PvP spectrum, I'm sure that top level players are playing an immensely tactical game. But it's an entirely different type of PvP than is practised by everyone else and it doesn't justify FFA PvP burdening the masses..

Mon Feb 18 2008 12:26AM Report
siftified writes:

Lol eric's post translated to something along the lines of.

I am a carebear. I hate PvP'ers. F*ck PvP.

Meated out somewhat of course. Thrilling stuff.

Seriously, alot of the comments that constantly come out about FFA-PvP being lame, boring, untalented and relying too much on gear/levels are actually true when compared against the poor quality of FFA-PvP games that are currently "popular".

However some of the older, more challenging games that weren't watered down to appeal to every man and his dog, really DID require skills, tactics and timing. Asheron's Call - Darktide for example, a lvl 60 player could go up against and beat a lvl 126 player (max level back then) if they were good enough. War spells (fireballs etc) could be dodged, as could arrows, adding the aspect of twitch and anticipation to the battles which could sometimes take well over 30mins if both players were good enough.

Mon Mar 03 2008 5:01AM Report

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