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Vicarious Existence

To blog about what is going on in the MMO genre from a casual MMO player's viewpoint.

Author: UnSub

The Great PvP Swindle

Posted by UnSub Thursday June 26 2008 at 1:28AM
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You'd probably have to go a long way to find a designer looking to develop a AAA MMO for a wide audience that wouldn't consider putting some sort of direct PvP (i.e. player vs player) combat in their game. PvP has come to be a core system in the MMO genre, up there with character creation systems or chat systems - a MMO would appear incomplete without it. It's also a system that attracts a dedicated audience.

This is why, intentionally or not, MMOs are starting to rely on baiting and switching when it comes to PvP.

Here's how it goes:

You devote separate media releases / interviews to PvP issues. Media articles talk about how important PvP is to the game (which it might be and probably is when players get to the 'endgame') and how many options players will have. A few write-ups of the PvP system sound awesome - you can take over buildings! You can enslave kingdoms! You can carve your name on the face of the world!

All this information drags the MMOPvP player into a frenzy. Finally, THIS will be the MMO that gets PvP right. THIS will be the game that satisfies my PvP desires! So the PvP guilds / sub-groups get together and plan to play at launch. This is because this will probably be the easiest time to make their mark - everyone is a newb and all lands remain to be conquered (or in-game equivalent). I have no stats regarding this, but I'm sure PvP commentary helps drive MMO pre-orders upwards among the PvP groups, who in turn try to convince others to sign-on.

Those PvPers in beta might be able to shed some light on what the PvP is really like, but often such information is fractured - some like it, some hate it. Beta is also not a good testing ground for PvP, since there usually isn't the critical mass of players to really test things out and combat functions change regularly, so that what works in one build doesn't work in the next.

The MMO launches and the PvPers arrive to find... their beloved PvP is not what was promised. Sure, you might be able to PvP anywhere in the world, but in reality only about 30% of it is open to such behaviour due to player numbers or player distribution or in-game systems designed to protect non-PvP players. In order to play the PvP, lots of time is required in PvE to get levels and / or loot. At launch, often key PvP systems are still out of wack, untested because not enough people had the opportunity to play test them thoroughly.

The great PvP swindle is a bait and switch to draw players towards an unreleased title. For all the alleged importance that some just released (AoC) and to be released (WAR) titles appear to put on PvP, the reality of it is that PvE still makes up the preferred advancement mechanism and the majority of the game. PvP works at the 'endgame' when enough people get there, but it rarely works prior to that point outside of the odd duel or skirmish. It is also a system that takes time to balance out - early PvP often sees in-game balance issues and / or bugs used to gain advantage that require quashing for things to become fair (or less unfair as the case may be). PvP only comes into its own after the MMO has been released for a while.

I'm not a PvPer. Nor am I here to complain that AoC didn't live up to expectations in the PvP side of things. But I've seen this tactic apparently taking greater hold - to focus on the PvP side of the game and ignore the PvE aspects during pre-launch media releases / previews - and find it a bit misleading.

craynlon writes:

as stated many times bevore i believe the genre has to diversify into mmo-pvp games and mmo-storytelling games.

i see so many people in conan that ignore the beautifull setting and stories to grind their way to some engame pvp (that isnt quite here)

i like both story games and pvp games but i have different expectations:

a good pvp-game imho would let me pvp 80%of my time in fair, balanced, challenging encounters with other players.

a good storytelling-game would just let me log in and enjoy the atmoshphere, the quests and the environment. if 10% of my time is spend competing (in pvp or otherwise) with other players its nice to have but not a gamebreaker if it isnt in. in this game i dont worry about getting xp fast or how my class is balanced, i just enjoy the time im "living" in the game world.

on aoc i agree with you. the pvp aspect is a swindle.
they did release the game this early because the story part (imho) works ok and is enjoyable but they are far from the pvp vision they marketed and i dont see that fixed within a few month of patches.

Thu Jun 26 2008 2:38AM Report
Alamor0 writes:

I disagree, Crawnlon.  The best game in the world would be one where you could do either, PvP or PvE, and advance at the rate of EVERYONE else, regardless of which path you wish to choose.

 

This is what WAR is trying to bring to the table.  People can PvP and get all the way to end game with that.  People can PvE and accomplish the same goal in the same time.  People can also mix it up to optimize progression and maybe be a tad faster than the other two options.  I'm not saying WAR will succeed.  But, IMO, a system like that is optimal.  I don't  want to have to play two different games to get my PvP and my PvE fix.  PvP should feel as much a part of the storyline as any PvE action, thus filling both needs simultaneously, while also letting players have a break from PvP and just enjoy the world!

 

Just my thoughts!

Thu Jun 26 2008 3:15AM Report
Azurus writes:

I don't think it's intended as misleading exactly.

Put it this way, if a new MMO announced it featured "great PvE levelling", the community will just react with a collective "meh".

The PR guys focus on PvP because it's still something to aim for, whereas decent PvE became expected of any game long ago. The only part of PvE people care about is endgame, just like PvP.

Once people start getting PvP right, that too will become part of the "furniture" and the PR guys will look to the next thing.

Thu Jun 26 2008 3:20AM Report
bluswordgirl writes:

I'm not a big fan of pvp, but I do realize it has its place in many mmos. I just think they need to stop trying to slap on pvp simply because players want it. Sometimes pvp is not a good fit in some games. Shoehorning a pvp arena or area into a game does not make for a better game experience, IMO. Sure u can put a hat on a donkey and call it a wizard, but I wouldn't let it cast a teleportation spell for me!

Thu Jun 26 2008 4:31AM Report
xenogias writes:

As someone mentioned thats what WAR is trying to do. Allowing you to pvp from level 1 and do nothing but and level just as well as the PvE crowd. Now if WAR manages to make both PvP and PvE awesome fun they may be the next giant. If the PvP is a blast and the PvE is just.....there it will still have a solid following.

Thu Jun 26 2008 6:52AM Report
Ephimero writes:

The biggest failure in pvp systems is that devs separate it from pve.

Thu Jun 26 2008 8:21AM Report
fansede writes:

PvP and RvR should be a part of MMOs because it gives the game more play life with less investment. A PvE game has to churn out new areas and content on a regular basis or the game will get stale.  While EQ holds its own now, it is because they launched when their was little competition and expansions kept players subbing. 

Wasn't there a dev from Guild Wars saying all a MMO game needs to pay its bills after launch is 150k subs?

PvP or RvR implemented properly - gives a player to log in to overcome other players and rewards for doing so.  Encourage fiar gaming behavior and discourage the banes of PvP ( gank, grief ).

My last hope is WAR because they claim that you fight for your race. Not just a part of your race who hates other races and contributes nothing to a cause. 

Thu Jun 26 2008 8:23AM Report
markoraos writes:

Lol, the writing was on the wall that AoC PvP is going to fail... however the desperation turned many of the otherwise level-headed and experienced MMORPG players into rabid fanbois... The truth that was quite obvious well before launch was too painful to contemplate - AoC devs had no idea whatsoever how to create a viable PvP game environment.

What they created is basically a single player "journey" rpg with multiplayer online capability. While it is possible that they honestly wanted to make it a PvP game as well, anyone stopping to really think about the whole concept for a few minutes will realize that this simply cannot be a basis for any meaningful PvP beyond what is already there in WoW for example.

WAR, on the other hand, is designed as a PvP game with a shifting global power balance between two factions. All the rest is secondary to this core concept which IS a true PvP core game design that can be used to form a basis for a rich and varied PvP environment. While it can still fail on many less-than/obvious levels, we can be sure that this core game design  is sound and squarely PVP oriented.

Thu Jun 26 2008 8:30AM Report
craynlon writes:

well im looking forward to war and im definitly trying it

i agree that a perfect game would have both but i think developers underestimate the resources they need to put in to make pvp really great. i also think that mmos didnt reach its full potential story-telling (pve) wise either

i agree that a story driven game needs constant content and is probably more expensive to maintain then a pvp game. just imagine making a mmo-chess system compared to producing a 100hour of lord of the rings movie with interactivity.
maybe a story telling game needs to face the truth that they cant please gamers that want 100h entertainment each week.

for me its choosing between going to the cinema (pve) or playing squash (pvp). i cant really enjoy a good movie when some1 hits me with a racket there and i dont want my opponent to tell me his life-story when i want to play squash.

Thu Jun 26 2008 8:45AM Report
lupisenparis writes:

planetside is nothing but pvp everywhere in a persistent world but look at their subs.... dwindling beyond recognition.  It goes to show you no matter how you put pvp it never does better than word of hype.

Thu Jun 26 2008 8:48AM Report
lupisenparis writes:

Nobody can say for sure that the majority of people bought wow for pvp but they can say to solo.

Thu Jun 26 2008 8:50AM Report
Evilsam writes:

full time,ffa,and hard core pvp has either ruined or lead to the major revamp of MOST,games it has ever been a feature at launch.

Exceptions are few,damn few,only one i can think of oh-hand would maybe be Eve.

Trying to "balance" pvp where a large population of pve players are involved,leads to a major clusterf..**.

Games that offer pvp servers with a difernt rule set than their pve servers all show one thing..most people will opt out of pvp if given a choice.Hence 10% or less of servers,on the average,will be a "pvp" server.

You can disagree with me,i don't have a problem with that,but if you look at mmorpg's across the board,they prove my point.

Thu Jun 26 2008 1:28PM Report
UnSub writes:

@Azurus: It's perhaps not always intended as misleading, but it is certainly used to paint a picture of a MMO that doesn't stand up to scrutiny. What you can do in PvP is often stated, but this tends not to be carried through in release since the details of how you can do something ("You can control a town!") is not really covered in detail ("You can control a town... provided you have the support of 25 guildmates, and then only for 24 hours in any kind of practical fashion").

I find it interesting that it is PvP where this attention is drawn. I really haven't seem similar articles, or similar numbers of articles, on something like RP, despite it also being something particular servers are set up for. Which leads me to believe that the devs / marketing thinks that PvP is going to bring in the people they want.

Thu Jun 26 2008 11:29PM Report
Azure77 writes:

 Pvp is resource intensive , to balance , to fix and to design. There is no way to create pve + crafting + pvp systems with full features in the first release on 40 million dollar budget unless you cut corners.

    Pvp is the biggest waste of money and resources you can ever have in any project. Anything more complex than hp , armor , mp stats , instantly is unbalanced and unfaired.

    Pvp should be put in unbalanced and unfinished , in instance zone and left there. These games should focus resources on designing non combat , story , pve , or social elements.

     There has never been a game with balance pvp , Eve still is gear balanced , its about the big ship eating the little ship. You can make money more , or you can hire big guild its game over.

      The reason why they market pvp  is , it is cheaper to have you kill newbies or yourselves than add decent content in a timely matter.

      M , Pvp model , Nudity , and such is gimmick to sell in overcrowded market. The only reason why Conan is selling well is , because its the only thing new (from retail) and people are sheep they flock to it , then end up burnt because retail doesnt make it any better than a broken f2p korean game ..

    If you want pvp , and rpg , you should look to Mortal Online , or MMO fps , those are the only way you get instant pvp. Full pvp died with Shadowbane.

Wed Jul 16 2008 6:53AM Report
jfrutchey writes:

past: Without a doubt Asheron's call. I loved the that you could be killed by anyone at anytime. The thrill of the hunt on a raid. The fact that you lost items if you died. It made pvp worth it!

present: there are none worth playing. PvP in WoW is an afterthought. PvP should be the anytime anywhere variety. Although I could go with safe zones, the majority of the world should have risks!

future: I still hope for a great game that has the AC feel for pvp.

Wed Oct 29 2008 11:00PM Report

MMORPG.com writes:
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