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Paragus Rants

Rants, reviews, and interviews from an MMO veteran and guild leader.

Author: Paragus1

Rant: Battlegrounds

Posted by Paragus1 Wednesday June 6 2007 at 11:22PM
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Rant: Battlegrounds

I'll never forget the last hours of the World of Warcraft open stress test before they took the servers down for the last time before retail.   Me and my friends were trying out this polished new game with 2 opposing sides fighting all over the world.  We were playing horse guys in the barrens when a large army of our team wanted to push into Ashenvale and attack the Night Elf strongholds in the woods.  What happened in literally the final minutes of beta was one of the biggest blowouts of PvP I had seen i quite some time.   People coming out from behind trees and over rocks fighting everyone.   Coming right off the heels of a tour of duty in DAOC, we saw a game that appealed to us a lot.

Release came, we all bought in and leveled up on the PvP server.  I remember we used to jokingly call the jungles of Stranglethorn Vale the Viet Nam of Azeroth.   Outdoor PvP was waged against  us every step of the way, and this was before there was any honor system or reward.  We killed each other for no other reason then because we could, and they were the other team.  Eventually everyone hit max level, and we roamed around between the Plaguelands, Winterspring, TM, Ungoro, Tanaris, Feralis, Booty Bay, and anywhere else that was contested looking for action and we usually found it.

Then it happened....



Some developer who probably had a really good look at his own prostate from having his head shoved up his ass for so long decided that Battlegrounds was exactly what WoW needed to promote fighting and to put the War back into Warcraft.  They gathered us up in groups and herded us away into instances to fight over a forest that was about 2 acres large, playing grab ass over a flag, and dangled some items as prizes which could only be attained by playing hundreds of matches.  Before long, the life was sucked out of the hand-crafted overworld and into these little instances and tried to convince us this is where the war was.  With a lifeless overworld, people did nothing else but fly from their city, to the BG and grind away.


Now maybe its just me, but I picked a PvP server because I wanted to fight other people, I wanted to fight all across the far reaches of the world, I wanted to fight in the capital cities, I wanted to fight everywhere.   With one fell swoop, the developers cut the shriveled balls off of the PvP servers making them literally no different from the PvE ones.

I played on Darktide, Andred, and Mordred.  Anyone who is a true fan of PvP knows that one of the big things about PvP is that its not always going to be on your terms, and honestly I can live with that.  I like the fact that a situation can deteriorate into a blood bath on a moments notice, even if I am the one getting bent over a tree stump in Red Ridge.  That's PvP.  Let's be honest here, the death penalty in WoW was practically zero, and in PvP it was less then that.  Die, rez, run back in 10 seconds, engage in PvP again.  So it never really bothered me no matter how bad the odds were.   It was a guild past time to make PvP movies of fun and hopeless situations which we still have to this day on our web site. (Check them out if you get bored)

What went wrong?

The battlegrounds basically took the war out of Warcraft.  It destroyed the immersion of the games premise.  To make matters worse, the same self-prostate examining Dev decided that why even make people leave the city to get to the battleground, lets just warp them over.   This diminished the outdoor traffic even further, and when you factor in fight paths drop you almost at the front doors to the raid dungeons, there became little reason for most to go outside the city.   Not only did battlegrounds ruin PvP, it ruined all the time and work that went into world design.

But hey, the good news is that you will spend the next months of your time fighting over a Lumber Mill, 2 acres of woods, and a snow covered valley trail.   They actually expected us to believe that the world was being torn apart by a war, but the only places of importance were these 3 static areas?!   If you win you gain some points and nothing changes, if you lose you still gain points and nothing changes, so WTF is the point of this?   The loot could be outclassed by raiding the easiest raid dungeons at the time.



What should have happened?


First, there should have been either special servers with no battlegrounds, or just not put them on the PvP servers at all.  The popularity of such servers would have been massive.  Second, the contested zones should have actually been contested, which would mean able to be taken by one side or the other.  Contested zones could have been connected by supply lines or lattices, and the war would have drifted along these supply routes on both continents so that at any given time there would have been 2 or 3 fronts to chose from.  This would have prevented zones in the middle from being taken without controlled the neighboring zones.  This of course would mean some concrete capturable objectives in every contested area in the forms of towers, caves, bunkers, etc.

PvP servers are supposed to be hard, and as such, creating a character on a PvP server in AC (Darktide) and in DAOC (Andred / Mordred) would come with a disclaimer warning of a harder lifestyle on these worlds.   This is your crybaby insurance, slap it on there and leave your diapers at the door or don't come in.



Who did it right?

Dark Age of Camelot is the king of PvP to many people for a reason.   They really knew how to promote overworld PvP with real capturable objectives, with real bonuses and value to them.  They had the war map you could pull up and see who held what, and they had PvP points which unlocked new powers to further advance yourself.  Blizzard seems to have stolen the best features from all of the previous successful titles except this one.   I in no way fault them for taking ideas, some of them were good ones.   FFXI pioneered the auction house system which is pretty much standard issue in any game now thanks to WoW adaptation of it.  I just wish if they were copying stuff they would have learned a bit more from Mythic.



If your a developer of an upcoming MMO with PvP slated to be a major backbone of your game, please read these words and take them to heart.   Instancing PvP is a mistake and should only exist in extreme moderation if at all.  Unless your making a Guild Wars Arena type game it doesn't belong.  Your making your game with PvP as a focal point, and if you want that crowd to take you seriously, PvP should take place on the beautiful overworld you spent years making.   Its like taking your child to the amusement park, and telling him to play in the parking lot.  Let the world be our battleground.

Paragus
Co-Leader of Inquisition
www.inqguild.com

Panossian writes: Nice Blog. The entire concept of PvP battlegrounds or PvP "flagged" areas is laughable. If your a dev and are so intent on appealing to every single type of player out there so you can try to maximize your profits, just create different types of servers with actual differences. Have servers for players who want a safe combat free environment who want to engage in PvP only when they are ready. And have a server with open war. Let the players create their own alliances and govern themselves instead of trying to manipulate and pigeonhole the PvP. Thu Jun 07 2007 9:32AM Report
cmagoun writes: Very cool article and very true. I always enjoyed the world PvP I experienced in WoW, but really wasn't interested in Battlegrounds. I want a reason to fight and a real, meaningful consquence to the gameworld for the outcome of those fights. Heck, I am not even a big-time PvPer, but I find that world PvP makes the game more unpredictable and more exciting. Battlegrounds essentially killed world PvP and thus, made the world less interesting. BTW, I heard that the new expansion was supposed to contain a system to encourage world PvP again. How is that going? Thu Jun 07 2007 12:12PM Report
Paragus1 writes: CMagoun,they lost me before the expansion honestly. I was sick of waiting for the devs to decide to throw us a bone for world pvP after being strung along for months. One day a Dev walks in and tries to convicen us that the big world PvP patch has us fighting over sand in the desert. Complete and utter stupidity and a slap in the face of anyone who put their faith in them to remedy the problem. SANDLOL anyone? Say it on thier forums and they would ban you right after this was introduced. Thu Jun 07 2007 5:20PM Report
Daedren writes: Another good post Paragus. Let us hope Mythic gets it right again with Warhammer Online, and the WoW standard Battleground crap won't see it into another game. However, as a Developer, I've met with my share of companies who intend to copy WoW (because of their success) in nearly every way. Glad to see there are some PVP junkies like myself out there who won't stand for that crap. World PVP should be the only PVP there is. Fri Jun 08 2007 8:54AM Report
LuggLD writes: Good article. To be honest, after I tasted EVE Online PVP, no other game does it for me anymore. Never had that much real adrenaline pumping while sitting in my desk chair, apart from that one time when my gi.. nevermind. Anyways, I think the problem really is developers trying to please all their customers. A customer's instinctive reaction to losing stuff or being the subject of brutal murder is "omg lame!" - understandably. But reducing the stakes to cut down the whining? No thank you. High stakes make fights so much more interesting, and *meaningful*. Sun Jun 10 2007 1:48PM Report
Paragus1 writes: Thanks Lugg. I can't say I have ever played EVE, but I am familiar with its death penalty. Darkfall is planning on bringing back the full loot in PvP. Since their system is a skill-based system with a lot less emphasis on gear, it won't be career ending and still keep the stakes exciting. Sun Jun 10 2007 6:04PM Report
Lunar_Knight writes: Okay, while I agree with a lot of what’s been said, I feel like your all ignoring the fact that Dark Age of Camelot has battlegrounds as well. One of the things I REALLY liked about DAoC was that it allowed you to have a taste of PvP before the end game. Some of my most exciting PvP experiences come from the Thidranki BG. No, the battleground wasn't particularly large or the objective (the keep in the middle) particularly important, but the moment you and your realm mates managed to bash in the doors, slay the keep lord and have the message "The forces of (your realm) have captured Thidranki Faste!" broadcast across the entire server for the first time...well, it made all the difference. Tue Jun 12 2007 6:17AM Report
Paragus1 writes: Lunar, I am referring to PvP taking place inside of an instanced area. The instanced PvP battlegrounds always makes sure the team are even, and predictable. The outcome of the fight has no bearing at all on the landscape of the world because of its instanced nature. DAOC has an outdoor realm area that is not instanced, with real capturable objectives, and winning or losing battles over them has real consequences. Tue Jun 12 2007 7:41AM Report
vajuras writes: yeah what gets me is Mythic is going battlegrounds route with WAR right? Man such a sad state these MMOs are in. I used to like WoW pre-battlegrounds but now I know it was always an MMO for farmers. I got destroyed by people that wore epic gear. it just got outrageous. I wish we had more choices. MMOs appaear to take a long time to develop so according to Richard Bartle (MMOs are for Newbies) we will see more instances. more and more even tho they detract from MMO. Are MMOs a big lie? I dont see whats so massive about these things so far. WoW pre-battlegrounds was kinda okay but alas that was kinda fake we couldnt take over a darn thing. these fake MMOs man, real fake. maybew 10 yrs from now we'll get a real one Wed Jun 13 2007 7:08PM Report
vajuras writes: btw- in regards to PvE I dont think MMOs are too terribly bad off but even there they not really all that massive Wed Jun 13 2007 7:09PM Report
Paragus1 writes: A lot of what you are saying is also related to how itemization is used in an MMO. This is a topic some of my guild mates have suggested I write on. When PvP isn't considered enough in a games development, a lot of the gear in PvE can turn out to be imbalanced and lacking variety. Thu Jun 14 2007 5:16PM Report
A_N_T_I writes: Good blog; you manage to capture my frustration with battlegrounds very well, even though I dont agree entirely with you opinions on solutions. Fri Jun 15 2007 9:58AM Report

MMORPG.com writes:
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