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Paragus Rants

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

Author: Paragus1

Rant: Guards!

Posted by Paragus1 Monday November 3 2008 at 7:43AM
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Rant: Guards!

What is it about MMO developers and their inability to implement guards in their games in a rational manner. Going all the way back to the very first MMOs, we have seen paranoid developers either use guards to try and stop their players from running amok in their games, or for merely decorative purposes.

I was playing Warhammer Online recently in one of the scenarios when I became witness to a guard from the other team going berserk killing most of my team. I think what bothers me is not so much that the guards attacked us, but the fact that the guards are level 55 champions! I mean seriously, what the fuck are there level 55 guards for?! These bad boys are handing out 30,000 damage a hit to a level 40.

The scenario "Serpent's Passage" revolves around the idea of 2 boats crashed on the same island fighting over some salvage part to repair their ships and get off the island. That is all well and good, but if the task is that important and critical, why would you send out the level 40s to kill each other and not send the level 55 super hero guard?! Hell, I'll take it a step further! Why don't they send out this guy to single handedly win the entire war?! He hits for 30,000 damage a pop, which sure to be enough to bring most keep lords to their knees in a few hits, and probably decimate the enemy king.

What were they thinking? Developers are so paranoid that players might actually have some freedom or inconvenience the other team that they have to use this as a method to keep us contains from going out of bounds. It reminds me of people who play Dungeons and Dragons with a Dungeon Master who uses one of the box adventures instead of giving their players the freedom to make their own decision. Unfortunately this problem is not just limited to recent games.

As far back as Everquest 1 we have seen guards gone wild, but even worse were vendors! I remember when Everquest first came out that I would sometimes accidentally attack the baker selling rations by pressing the wrong button on the keyboard. The result was me getting obliterated for obscene amount of damage. This also made me wonder why this lady is selling bread and not out hunting dragons, and what she is doing with that loaf to cause so much damage.

Final Fantasy 11 took a different approach to guards as a PvE game. Their guards looked bad ass usually sporting some amazing looking armor. You would think if there was ever guard that should be doing massive damage it would be them. Unfortunately we will never know because they are merely decorative. I will never forget my first night in FFXI where a bunny rabbit crit me and chewed my face off while the nearby guard stood motionless as I clung to him for dear life. It's a good thing the police in real life didn't train at the Vana'diel police academy!

World of Warcraft took yet a different approach. Their guards did not do massive damage and were very much killable. The bad news is that there seemed to be more guards in the town then people whenever one is attacked. My guild used to attack Red Ridge when the game first came out, and more guards ran out of that place then there were people living there. They just magically seemed to appear out what must have been a mysterious portal that connected to the biggest barracks of all time.

Age of Conan gave us Funcom's take on the idea. The guards were not super high level and they did not hit terribly hard. The bad news is that you could not hit them back! We used to murder people in the Noble District on the FFA server, at which time the guards would usually chase us. I found it ironic that my character had the will to murder innocent players in the street, but did not have the will to defend himself from the town guard. Players were often left to finding ways hide from the guards, but sometimes this would result in Funcom handing out a suspension. Clearly the Funcom CSRs thought it as more important to prosecute people hiding from guards instead of those exploiting the raid content in the game, nice work there!

Can we please stop having developers try to box us in with guards? Let us have our freedom, these are RPGs after all. God forbid the players should do something the developers never thought imagined we would. God forbid another player might be inconvenienced by another on a free for all server. Look, there is nothing wrong with having guards in your game. I wouldn't expect to be able to kill someone in real life without them coming, but be sensible about it. If you are a pure PvE game, then at least have the guards lend a hand if I am coughing up blood on them. If you are making a PvP game, the guards should be killable and in limited supply.  The use of guards in most MMO's so far has hurt immersion and has served as a virtual bitch slap by the devs to keep their players inside the box.

Paragus

Co-Leader of Inquisition

www.inqguild.com

Abrahmm writes:

My favorite guards were in SWG, which were either light/dark jedi guarding their enclave. They were level 500 while the level cap was 80.

Mon Nov 03 2008 7:46AM Report
Zyrena writes:

Great write up!  It boggles the mind how developers still don't get it with the games.  No, I'm not looking for a way to camp spawn points, but I'll be damned if I'm going to let that wussy opposition player hide behind a guard's nickers like it's their mother's skirts!

Another point is how imbalanced the guards are for different areas in games.  An example is from Warhammer Online; the Tier 1 RvR area in Norsca is terrible when it comes to guards.  The Order guards patrol and chase Destruction clear into the Battlefield Objective areas as well as the ranged Hero guard on the hill who will one shot anyone who dares to get too close.  The Destruction guards patrol their one little pathway and don't leave it, giving Order a good amount of space to encroach on Destruction players.

To have guards in a game, developers need to consider the level range of players in that area as well as code the guards to act similarly for both sides, able to either pursue the opposition or neither side's guards to move from a restricted area.

Again, nice write up.  You brought back some memories of other games I've played in the past!

Mon Nov 03 2008 7:58AM Report
Panossian writes:

Rofl..

Very nice write up and so very true.

Mon Nov 03 2008 8:07AM Report
Daedren writes:

I think it all started in UO. In UO beta and launch, guards were realistic and human. They hit hard, but you could actually fight and/or distract them.

Well, player assassinations in towns became popular - you'd have people go distract the guards while the killers went for their targets. It worked well, but the company caved into player whining.

The teleporting, one-hit wonder guards were born.

You could still at least attack and even kill people in town, it was just usually a suicide tactic.

Ah, the good ol' days. ;) 

Mon Nov 03 2008 9:22AM Report
AmazingAvery writes:

I had a half drag shield drop from a guard in Runescape once, they aren't all bad ;)

We put together write up :)

Mon Nov 03 2008 11:13AM Report
Hinden writes:

Nice rant, brought back some nice memories, at this point I expect guards in MMO's to be smacked ass bitches or Gods, no suitable in-between.

Mon Nov 03 2008 11:44AM Report
MyPreciousss writes:

What pisses me off is guards of a city that keeps whining all day for you to do their job, you'll get in trouble and they just doze when you're entering their city with badass mobs on your trail and don't bother defend you, unrealistic and ungrateful 8-P

Mon Nov 03 2008 3:12PM Report
fansede writes:

Guards are a necessary evil in MMOs or there will be no safe areas or respawn points. You are correct that there are essentially walking barriers to players and contribute very little to the overall game.

I like the approach that guards should not be supero heroes. They should be feared, but not ridiciluous in power. If the enemy wants to assault a warcamp, they should but what should make this effort very tough should be the war machines protecting the camp. The guards may fall slowly to a warband, but the guards should be manning the cannons and firing at will on the invading force.

In scenarios, the guards again should be strong but not deities. Make the terrain prohibitive to prevent players from abusing the scenario ( being able to attack without being able to be attacked). The guards hsould also drop some good gear as well. Give well organized teams another goal if they push back  the opposing force to their spawn points. The risk/ reward ratio at this point is high because players are respawning fast and champion guards are tougher to take down.

As far as town guards, I think guards should be able to arrest offenders and lock them up for a period of time. Players who want to enjoy the game still have to fear the guards in town if they are doing "illegal activity", but make it interesting instead of insta death. If the guards catch you they carry you to a prison instance in which players have to figure out how to escape. Maybe it involves tricking a guard to his deatha nd getting a key, or perhaps scrounging up enough valuable items in the instance to bribe a guard or perhaps unlock a secret escape route..

Tue Nov 04 2008 8:20AM Report
fischsemmel writes:

Fansede - who said there needs to be safe areas/respawn points? Who said that guards are necessary?  That's right, no one but you. You aren't THINKING at all, and are just basing assumptions on what is common to see in games right now.

I'm positive there are ways to deal with safe zones, respawning, etc., without the use of guards.

I'm sure there are ways for MMOs to work perfectly fine without any form of guards at all.

 

I do like the idea of guards being more than just brutes who kill anyone do steals a copper piece or insults a local magistrate, however.

Tue Nov 04 2008 9:35AM Report
ganuska writes:

GREAT JOB!  Let us see if this will wake the up!-we can cross our fingers!--btw i have coffee for any dev. that needs!!

Wed Nov 05 2008 11:33PM Report
SDASlaine writes:

Instead of Guards! (Which I did used to find hilarious in UO when you saw a grey or red in town) I think you should pray to a god or diety or something, and then if you have curried enough favor with said god, and you are attacked in town (where perhaps there is a shrine to said god) then you could perhaps shout 'Lord! Help me in my moment of need' or something and if your favor is higher than the favor of the PK'er then the god sends down a lightning bolt to zap the critter.

I would rather be one shotted by a god, than some Halbard carrying guard with ideas above his station :D

Sun Feb 22 2009 2:15AM Report
Wizardry writes:

A few things.First of all i don't like any game that just makes it TOO easy to get mounts,soon every single player will be mount fighting.I already mentioned this long ago,because it will turn out like HORIZONS ,where every player was a dragon,it just makes for a very unrealistic game .I could go for the DF system "IF" they used a paper rock scissors approach,whereby say a ranged player would have more damage versus a mounted ,but mounted more versus melee.You can't have ONE aspect of the game rule over all,it ios a poor design.

As to your guardsd query,you again are not looking at it realitically.You can't attack 50 mobs then run to the guard everytime for help,it makes for CHEAP combat .Imagine in real life,the guard would saying"not you again go away".As to the baker handing out a ton of damage,that is merely to keep the game from being exploited or ruined,i am sure you can see the logic of not allowinmg a player to kill al lthe towns NPC's as a level 1.As for the rabbit damage,sure i can sort of agree that a rabbit could never hurt anyone,but then there would be no little creatures in ANY game,because they wouldn't hurt anyone without armor ..period.So you have to sort of accept little creatures in games.Also remember it is a trade off,they are giving experience =to the damage given so it is fair.

Tue Mar 10 2009 7:48AM Report

MMORPG.com writes:
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