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The PVP Question : Age of Conan and the fight

Posted by grace-monday Thursday May 29 2008 at 10:55AM
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Years after I had stopped playing Ultima Online, every now and again I would run into someone who would remember the "Blood & Glory" days. Getting ganked in Ultima Online was a harrowing experience where the stakes were higher as your bags could be looted entirely. In later games, I tried to explain this to people who hadn't played UO. They could barely wrap their heads around the idea of being killed and robbed. The fact that they couldn't fathom this heralded a new age in MMORPGs and in PVP.

Like a former mugging victim leaving their house, a certain level of paranoia became the norm in Ultima Online. You made sure never to leave a town with a full bag of anything important. Traveling alone was a liability. Looking like you had a lot of money was a liability. A lot of people got tired of being constantly paranoid. A lot of people enjoyed it. It was a different time back then.

There is this new on-going battle between the PVP server people in Age of Conan. The question is, "If you kill someone who is of much lower level than you, should you be penalized?" A hot topic as many have been temporarily banned for "harassing" people on PVP servers.

We have two camps on this debate, each whose beliefs I will present.

Free For All PVP - Felucca
By creating a character on a PVP server, you accept the following terms:
1. You will die. You will die a lot.
2. You will be killed by anyone and everyone, regardless of level or reason.
3. The GMs shouldn't/won't help you. Which reads simply: lawless PVP.
4. If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen and reroll on a PVE server.

Law and Order - Elder Scrolls
By creating a character on a PVP server, you accept the following terms:
1. It is unlawful to kill someone who is gray to you.
2. Ganking, corpse camping, and border camping should be prevented by GMs.
3. Even the most delicate of mindset shall be avenged through reporting "harassment" to the GMs.
4. To make complaints easier on the GMs, a passive jail and murderer system will be enacted.

There is no easy answer to "the Question." As someone who plays on a PVE server, you may be apt to agree with the Law and Order stance. As someone who regularly ganks people on a PVP server, you may be a die-hard supporter of the FFA PVP stance. One may poorly make references to other games as examples of systems that "have worked." What is most important to take into account here, is not what worked for other games, but what will work for Age of Conan.

What you may have come to expect from PVP in another game, won't be universal. WoW PVP is full of griefing, to the point where most people level two characters in tandem as corpse camping is the norm. EQ2 PVP, if someone above or below your level by no more than 8 kills you, you lose money and maybe an item off of your person. In non-PVP areas on normal shards, UO would mark you as a murderer, preventing you from going into towns and sometimes even guaranteeing you a permanent loss in stats.

Why do people kill other people?

To understand the rules of engagement, one must first understand what the reason to kill is. Once you understand why people kill others, you can build a system around that that passively forces people to kill people closer to their level and spend less time griefing others.

1. People kill because they like to kill. They like settling their disputes with fists instead of words. Someone farming your node? Kill them. Someone killing mobs you need for your quest? Kill them. Take what you want from the world and never apologise. (I personally fall under this category.)

2. People kill because they like being assholes. Like children with magnifying glasses burning a marching row of ants, people will create characters on PVP servers to generally make life difficult for people. You may argue that this stems from some deep-seeded mental issue, but who cares. These people exist and there's nothing you can do about it.

3. People kill because there's something in it for them. Be it honor points or a PK score or some sort of title. These people tend to be the most practical out of the lot. If it's easier to get item X by killing player A, then they may set aside their stand-offish playing routine to jump a player.

People who kill because they like to kill, may never change but they tend to be the less likely out of the bunch to grief low level players. They kill when they think someone is in their space. People who kill because there's something in it for them are opprotunists and can be lured away from harassing lower level characters by being given bigger, better rewards like PK/honor scores that only count people near their level that can be redeemed for items/titles.

But you will never, under any circumstance, be able to control or get rid of the people who kill because they're assholes. You may be quick to write these people off as a waste to the PVP community but anyone who has actually leveled on a PVP server understands that these people are the most necessary out of anyone on the list. They give you, the person on the PVP server, a reason to level up. You're so angry they keep on harassing you so all you dream of is revenge, or the ability to be high level and repay your anger by harassing other low level people. These "assholes" actually stir the shit of PVP servers, making it interesting and giving people reason far beyond or in lieu of material rewards. And the people who can't take the harassment or win the fight reroll onto PVE servers, keeping the PVP community strong.

Like in real life though, you can't please everyone. And the loudest voice sometimes in an MMO can change the way the game plays. Developers have to weigh these "suggestions" and find out what's best for their game and what's best for their players. If they waste money and resources creating a PVP system that a majority of quiet people dislike, but the loudest minority likes, they're going to have a tough decision. The biggest seller of games is PVP/multiplayer.

Felucca or Oblivion?

After all is said and done, what should be done with Age of Conan's PVP servers? Should they put in a jail/murder system? Should they continue to let people run around lawless? Should they include honorable kill incentives? Because right now, there is no real reason to kill anyone in Age of Conan, which is something the "asshole" PVP camp thrives on, but the other two groups care not much for.

You have to trust your subscribers. Give them the benefit of the doubt before you throw more than half your PVP server in jail. Set guidelines and rewards for killing those who are closer to your level. There will always be griefers, corpse campers, and even the more passive "training." Embrace your PVP community instead of sending it to bed early without supper.

Think about the lower level people too. If they're having a hard time, give them a buff after they're killed by someone who is much higher leveled than them. Put more graveyards in the game to solve the horrid "long run back" problem. Make the starter island impossible for higher level people to come to and kill people.

People will always complain. People will always die. These are two things we hold to be self-evident on a PVP server. What Funcom decides to develop for Age of Conan has yet to be seen. Give PVP a chance.

 

Good post about EQ2 PVP that applies to almost all PVP.

Sovrath writes:

I think if you sign up for a FFA pvp server you should accept that it is actually free for all and deal with it.

Otherwise it isn't really a FFA pvp server now is it?

Thu May 29 2008 1:17PM Report
grace-monday writes:

@Sovrath: I agree. If they MUST have rules for PVP servers, make the ruleset clear before people create characters on the server. Apparently people don't understand what FFA really means.

Thu May 29 2008 2:22PM Report
jusomdude writes:

There should be some sort of prevention of repeatedly ganking the same person consecutively on a PvP server. Without it, it seems permadeath would be a better solution... Players might actually think twice about attacking another player... although it might work better if players couldn't see other players lvls.

Thu May 29 2008 5:12PM Report
grace-monday writes:

@jusomdude: Why should people be forced to think twice about attacking someone on a PVP server? Doesn't that defeat the point?

Thu May 29 2008 5:20PM Report
jusomdude writes:

Not to me it doesn't, I think it would add another element, making it a little more realistic. You don't know what's gonna happen if you attack someone your same build and weight walking down the street, hand to hand. Since it seems people that like PvP also like a challenge, I think another risk factor would be good.

Or to lessen the risk someone could just always hang out/gank with friends. I think it would weed out the cowards who just gank lowbies for the hell of it though, or they would just have to change their methods(eg invite friends) but even then it wouldn't be guaranteed.

Thu May 29 2008 7:16PM Report
jusomdude writes:

And some more thoughts...

One of the complaints I hear about not being able to attack other players in an environment is that it restricts freedom, killing emmersion. I think being on a PvP server means you can attack other players, not should.

 

Thu May 29 2008 7:24PM Report
HumbleHobo writes: The issue is when a game tries to blend these two polar opposites. Sometimes, it's all or nothing. If you want to experience both, why not make FFA zones and PvE zones in a single world? Everyone gets what they want. You could even do what EVE does, (and Runescape) by having areas that gradually become more and more dangerous until they are total lawless FFA. Everyone is happy, because you can choose to not PvP, or choose to forfeit all law, or choose something in between. Thu May 29 2008 8:13PM Report
grace-monday writes:

@jusomdude: In my opinion, save the "immersion" for RP-PVP. If you want to space out while questing or enjoy the scenery, play on a PVE server and participate only in consensual PVP.

@HumbleHobo: Completely agree. People will always find reasons to complain, but when someone goes walking into a highly contested zone, they have only themselves to blame. The problem with AoC right now is that you can get attacked anywhere apparently including during cut-scene talks with quest givers. That sounds mostly like a game developers' problem but everyone is quick to blame everyone else. There's this epic post on the AoC forums where someone totally ganked someone IN FRONT of a GM and in a quest hub town, and it was the most embarrassing situation (for the GM and probably the player who got killed.) The post was quickly deleted and I'm pretty sure the poster got temp banned from the forums.

http://img262.imageshack.us/img262/6715/gmgt8.jpg

http://img246.imageshack.us/img246/1724/gm8kj6.jpg

http://img246.imageshack.us/img246/7049/gm4yj1.jpg

The biggest point is, at the very very very least make quest hub towns and cities immune to PVP. Seems the easiest to implement.

Thu May 29 2008 9:06PM Report
jusomdude writes:

Yeah, I honestly don't care that much for the "immersion" either, but that's what I see complained about from a lot of the FFA PvP advocates.

grace... So... have anything else to say on the permadeath/anonymity subject?

If you were referring to that subject hobo, I don't see how that is blending PvE and PvP?

Thu May 29 2008 9:36PM Report
Mithios writes:

I agree that if you go on a PVP server, you get what you get, though I do believe there should be some realistic penalties. If you kill newbies, you get the title "newbie killer" or rank of coward or something. PVP should have consequenses, faction or otherwise, but griefing people isn't playing and that isn't what is intended.

Fri May 30 2008 3:10AM Report
shade633 writes:

heres an idea im just gonna throw out there, havnt seen it used yet and i doubt it will acutally get used here, but here goes.  Ok first of all i love pvp but when i wanna lvl i wanna lvl, and i also like the thril of never knowing what is going to happen while im doing said lvling.  If ppl my lvl wanna go at it im fine with that i get a chance to learn how to beat them and its part of the realism of a world of blood and gore, but if im trying to kill quest mobs and some high lvl ass just keeps ganking then enough is enough.  So how bout this, pick a lvl range e.g. 5 lvls (just an example) and say anyone that is 5 lvls above you were to kill you, for whatever reason what so ever then they gain a simple little penalty that affects there favor in town.  This in turn raises the prices on everything they want to buy, and a drastic raise at that, like 5 times the normal cost.  This would need to apply to everything in town, this favor would carry over from town to town no matter where you went, sort of like a reputation but known worldwide.  At some points if your favor/reptuation is too low per say then certain npcs and merchants wont even talk to you.  The only exception to this is a stated guild war, where in one guild declares war with another, this in turn gives each guild free reign on the other guilds players with no penalties.  Now ultimately this would add an entire new aspect to the game, for one guild management becomes bigger and more important.  Another thing is that people who actually want to be so called "murders" would actually carry a realistic stand on there chosed lifestyle.  Now as far as regaining this favor, there are any number of options e.g. quest, special boring errands that are repeatable, these have to be done for each npc that you want to gain back favor for.  Thats just 2 ideas but im sure whatever will work.  As far as someone earlier said about making a decision as to whether or not to attack someone, and they said it should matter.  Well it does matter, people need to develop the habit of thinking before they do something, hell the entire world could use more people like that and if a frickin game can lend a hand then why the hell not.  Everything else you do in the game as far as your character creation involves you making choices why shouldnt a major aspect of the game have the same respect. 

Well theres my idea, i think it would work and make a huge difference in the game play for everyone, gankers and immersers alike.

Fri May 30 2008 8:23AM Report
shade633 writes:

sorry my grammer and spelling are a little off need to sleep too much AOC....

Fri May 30 2008 8:28AM Report
Vexe writes:

First of all, I'm glad that some has made an intelligent argument from all sides. Finally.

Secondly, FFA efers to all characters being able to attack each other, not if you're punished for the actions. Law and order would definately prevent a lot of "assholes" from being...well...themselves, but if one was really REALLY locked on greifing, then that wouldn't really stop them at all. And sometimes it's better to be on your toes all time. I know I'm having more fun than I thought I would being cautious and having the hide more often than not. Although this only to an extent. When it takes me about an hour to get from entrance to exit in an area, that's when it's a bit too much.

So there should most definately be rules or some sort of guidlines that will have a punisment for greif killing, but not so much that people who are really intent on it will stop; because as much as I don't like it, it does propel you forward and keep you on your toes. Some basic rules and some sort of punishment system to dwindle the numbers, but not completely. I personally lke the bounty system in EVE. This is just an idea, and I will not make any arguments for it because I haven't had time to think it out, but it sounds somewhat productive. I'm not sure how this would work without perma-death, though.

Bottom Line: Some "assholes" are almost neccesary, but not to the extent that can be seen without a rule system or purpose for killing. Rles should be implemented to prevent these numbers from COMPLETELY driving away new PVPers.

Fri May 30 2008 9:57AM Report
Vexe writes:

*refers

Fri May 30 2008 9:58AM Report
vajuras writes:

what gets me these pointless world pvp games have way more ganking then games like EVE online by far. This is what happens when you create server w/o giving players power to police their own server. Choas results.

Not having spawn protection is BEYOND SILLY. They seriously gavbe FFA PVP server ZERO thought. What pisses me off they ignored us closed Beta testers and forum visiters. I was registered for AoC official forums for long time

We told and begged and pleaded for empowering players with method to police FFA pvp server. Thewy pissed on us completely and ignored us like we fraking idiots. Nevermind we're the ones that have to live on such a pointless server

that is why after closed beta i didnt bother buying yet

Fri May 30 2008 10:58AM Report
grace-monday writes:

In general response to everyone's comments so far, thank you!:

Frankly, I don't think Funcom is going to answer the PVP question anytime soon. They have other things to do like making sure the game works firstly. But it's incredibly disappointing if your whole MMO life revolves around PVP because there is just absolutely nothing in AoC for you.

With all the wonderful suggestions I've read so far in the comments, some just little tweaks and easy to implement and other things a little more severe, there's absolutely no excuse why PVP has to be so painful and pointless in AoC.

Maybe in the coming months, they will do something. Hopefully they'll try out other things before they try to use the "Bounty Hunter" and jail systems. I find these things to be a little severe and coding intense. Either way, the longer they take to even attempt to answer the question, the more subscribers they will lose due to no thought whatsoever.

Fri May 30 2008 11:27AM Report
AjninrepuS writes:

I am DIE HARD Pre UO-R, when their were no newbie lands the cry babies could run to.. I think an MMORPG should be as harsh as it would be in the time of the RPG, if it was a modern type game then sure their would be police and such like that.. Back in UO/Midevil times their were no cops...

 

Thu Jun 05 2008 1:01AM Report

MMORPG.com writes:
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