After a week hiatus finally got some time to put my pen to paper….err keyboard to fingers. Whatever. Here we go! Part 2 of my PVP article. This one is going to focus on the different types of PVP zones and what you can expect from them. If you missed it, HERE’s my intro and HERE’s my part 1 article which covers PVP rule sets.
There are 4 types that I will be covering in this article. Open World, Dedicated Zones, Instanced ( Or as I like to call them Canned ), and Home Invasion. Each one has good points as well as bad, I’ll try to touch on them all as I go, but I may miss out on some. Feel free to follow me on Twitter @WeTheFew, leave comments here, or even discuss on my forums.
Instanced Zones ( AKA Canned )
I’ll be starting with the less intrusive of them, which are the instanced/canned zones. These zones are completely isolated in their own section, so if you are out doing your own thing, you will not be engaged in PVP matches. Many games are incorporating this aspect of PVP in their games, I think about 90% of games have them now. WoW Battlegrounds, AOC matches, Star Trek Online PVP, Warhammer Online, etc etc etc. The list goes on and on. I’m not singling these games out, since most of them also have open areas with PVP as well, just spitting them out for reference, in case you are curious as to examples.
The biggest benefit of this kind of system is that if you don’t want to PVP, you don’t have to. Also if you are a fan of having premades ( pre setup groups with your friends coordinating on Ventrilo or Teamspeak ), this is an easy way to have even number of fights without interference. On a populated server/game they can become available (pop) pretty regularly which is a quick and easy way to get into some PVP. Matches have certain time limits, usually ranging from 15-30 minutes. Some can go longer, depending on the game and the “goal”.
These types generally have a goal, or mission. Whether it is a capture the flag system, resource gathering or complete domination of the other team (AKA most kills in the allotted time). Also there is generally a level range of about 10 levels where one can enter into the same battle as another person.
That’s why most people like them, set number of combatants, quick PVP that won’t take up your whole day, occasionally you get a good fight of premade vs. premade. I, personally, think they are horrible and should not be an option in any game, at least not a primary means of PVP.
My biggest negative factor would have to be the lack of real world impact that these canned instances have. What happens is there are multiple capture the flag battlegrounds going on at the same exact time, none of which impact the server or realm (for the most part) other than you and your own gear. Basically to get into this kind of a “zone” is you sit around, hit a button that tells the game, Hey I want to play capture the flag. You wait around and then you get a popup, you click it. You know what you are doing, how many people max you are fighting and where they will be. There is no hunter/hunted situations, just usually mindless body rushing since you will just respawn within a few seconds. After the 15 minutes of capture the flag or whatever it is, what impact does it have on the realm/server/guild? None. An annoyance of mine…I’ll use Warhammer Online for this example….How many damned Nordenwatches are there in the game??? How can 10 v 10 be battling at one Nordenwatch and another 20 in another, and another 20 in another…I know it’s a game, but I like to have some semblance of reality.
Premades can also kill this for most people as, obviously, a premade can outdo pretty much any PUG group. Organization wins over unorganized 95% of the time. Just doing a quick Google search and you can see tons of domination pictures of premades vs. non-premades. Semi-fun for the premades, annoying to the non’s. After a while even the premades get bored as they are constantly winning with little to no resistance.
Now the reason I call them canned instances….it’s too restrictive. You have a relatively small area to fight in, with certain goals, against specific odds. There’s really no surprise attacks, you can’t call for reinforcements from allies, you can’t really “do your own thing” since there are goals you have to accomplish for the most reward.
The final gripe I’ll mention about these types is the stagnant ideas and grind that they inevitably become. How many times can you do a capture the flag scenario with a different paint job, before it loses its fun factor. Once you start doing something over and over with no major change in experience or encounter or situation, it becomes a grind. Once it’s a true grind, it loses its appeal and fun, which is why I PVP.
That ended up being a larger rant on the Canned PVP zones than I was first expecting, but whatever. I hate them, and really hope they are the minority in future MMO’s. But since it’s a quick way to get items/xp, it’ll probably be here to stay. Aw well….
Dedicated Zones are most noticed (to me) in Dark Ages of Camelot (DAOC). It’s a zone that’s completely cut off from the main PVE Zones, but not a canned instanced. What I mean by this is say you want to go PVP in the Dedicated zone, you zone out of the PVE area into the PVP area, and that’s where you can battle with whoever else decided to go in. You have no idea if there are 50 people, or 1 running around.
Say you are running around and find a group killing some NPCs out there, or trying to take a keep/tower/whatever, you can stay behind them scouting them out while organizing some of your buddies to join you. They can just zone into the PVP area (since it’s shared you can do this, unlike the canned zones), meet up with you and you can engage the other group. Once out there you can roam around finding other random group encounters, sometimes a large force. The point is, it’s a shared zone, whoever goes into this area, is placed into the same one someone joined 2 hours ago, same one as your friends, and same one as any of your enemies who zone in as well.
The best part about this is the fact that the whole area is a battleground, usually a very large area, with random PVP encounters possible around every corner. It’s similar to an Open World situation, but with this, anyone not wanting to PVP has the option to stay away from it.
With this kind of a zone, there are usually realm/faction/guild/side controllable structures, keeps are a favorite with these kinds of games. Your realm can take and hold a keep and you own it forever, or until someone comes and takes it from your dead hands. Unlike in the Canned situations, where after 15 minutes it doesn’t matter. Since there are controllable structures, it instills a sense of realm pride (if done correctly) and meaning to holding it and defending it. Also brings a lot more strategy to the battlefield. You can have a main force (Zerg) pushing a Keep to take it, while the defenders are inside. If you are like me, and not a fan of huge large scale PVP, you can still do other things. A favorite of mine is taking my 8-man group and roaming between the keep and the enemies spawn point, or drop-off point and preventing reinforcements from reaching the keep. That way I can help the realm, but still hold my PVP ideals.
Aion Online has this kind of a system, they have it so anyone after level 25, after doing a quest, can zone into the Abyss which is a Zone with Keeps and artifacts. What they do is have the keeps available to be sieged during specific times, but artifacts can be taken at any point. While this is good, it also has a down fall…this places level 50s in the same battles as level 25’s, which is not so much fun for the lowbies. DAoC had a different system, which for every 5 levels, there was a specific battleground zone. These zones had keep(s) and some had towers as well…basically mini versions of the big boy zone. This let people enjoy a PVP zone without having to square off against insane level differences.
As great of a system as this is, there are negatives. The biggest is, if the server is lower population, and there is off peak times, you can find yourself wandering the zone not finding anyone to fight. Other times, if your realm/faction is the less populated side, you can find yourself getting Zerged a lot…their entire force vs. only 2 of you. There is also the negative that Aion implemented where the level range is very large which discourages the lower levels from venturing out and doing some PVP of their own.
This zone works best in an RVR rule set. Open PVP rule set in a zone would cause camping for anyone zoning in and makes the whole keep takes very difficult, almost non-enjoyable (to me anyway). It can be done, and DAoC’s Mordred server had an Open PVP and Guild vs. Guild rule set. There was also the same PVP zone that the regular servers had. While it was a great concept and rather fun, it was not as fun as the regular servers (to me anyway) for keep takes/defense and the strategy behind it all.
All in all, I think it’s the best system, lets people do their PVE and PVP how and when they want, without causing interruption. If done properly, can instill some great realm pride and a very good community. If done poorly, can end up like Warhammer, where people get sick of the keep takes and City sieges.
Open World isn’t technically a zone, since it’s everywhere, but it still qualifies for my article. Open world areas are like the Open World PVP, where the PVP can happen anywhere. If you are questing, bam, can have someone assassin you in the back. Usually the entire area is not a PVP zone, there are usually safe areas, but not always.
This is a lot like my opinions on the Open PVP rule set, where it’s great that there is a ton of action and can be very exciting, but can also be frustrating. Since it’s so similar, what I’m going to do instead is break it down by the different rule sets .
In a flagging system it works well since you can PVE freely without getting jumped when you don’t want it, as an attacker though, you can find yourself without prey for a long time..sometimes never finding any. Not a great way to have to PVP, but in an Open Zone it’s probably the best way to have a flagging system…more area to find someone who accidentally flags or forgets they flagged.
In faction vs. faction, as in WAR, WoW, Aion, etc. It works very well as you have allies as well as enemies in the same zone, so if you are getting overwhelmed you can group up and force the enemy out of the area. As the attacker, you can venture off and pretty much find a fight no matter where you go, as long as you avoid the opposing faction’s main camps, which are usually guarded by high level NPCs.
Finally in a Guild vs. Guild scenario, this is really the only option since anywhere would be your battlefield. Whether it is prearranged fights in an open field, or a random encounter while walking to turn in a quest, Open Zone is the way to go.
Open PVP Zone is hard to explain, but while it is good, it is also not my favorite. Sometimes when I’m playing I just want to PVE or Craft without having to deal with someone harassing me.
This is by far the coolest option, and can be implemented in any of the other zones, except open zones. This allows the opposing faction, guild, whatever invades property you own and ransack it for their general enjoyment.
One way this can be setup is if in a DAoC style Zoned system, if they take enough keeps, it breaks down the zone wall allowing them to have free reign in the enemy’s PVE zone or city or housing area. This would cause some major battles, a lot of people would come to defend to prevent this from happening, which would have the opposing force bring more people to fight for it TO happen. As long as it’s a rare situation where it actually happens I have no issue, but if it’s an every other day event (like WAR’s City Sieges) then it’d ruin it.
The problem with this, as I see it, is that it cuts off a good chunk of the game from the Non-PVPers. So it essentially turns their PVE only area into an Open PVP zone with RVR rule set. As a PVPer at heart, this won’t matter to me, especially if it’s a seldom occurrence, but I know a few PVE guru’s who would get pissed at this happening…but who knows, this might make them PVP more often to prevent it from happening, or cause them to PVP more to do it to the enemy.
If it’s not obvious, my Ideal PVP server/zones would be a Dedicated Zone with Home Invasion. But more of a limited home invasion that wouldn’t affect most of the PVE zones but WOULD affect the guild/player Housing areas. This would make it feel more personal and not force, but encourage, people to partake in PVP more often. In the PVP Zone there would be keeps, gates, and barriers which would have to be taken down completely in order to have access to the Home Invasion portion. This would make it more difficult and require a realm effort…which would promote a good community.
Now as far as instanced/Canned PVP goes. While I am not a fan of them myself, I can see them as being hugely enjoyable for guild vs. guild encounters. Say Guild Aqua Teen has a kick ass guild mansion set up on an awesome ocean front property with great access to some resourced nodes. Now Guild Rambo’s Offspring is an upcoming guild and they want that property for themselves. In my ideal situation, Rambo’s Offspring challenges Aqua Teen to their land. Both guilds would have to have property, never fair to leave one guild homeless, but if Aqua Teen has the better house/land, Rambo’s Offspring has to put up some collateral in case they lose.
If accepted, both guild GM’s would negotiated a Number VS Number situation and at a given time would battle it out in a scenario for that awesome property. If Aqua Teen wins, they win the purse. If Rambo’s Offspring wins, they get the new property and Aqua Teen gets shunted to their old home.
There are more intricacy’s that can/should be involved, such as if a large enough purse is offered by the challenging guild, then the game’s GM can force the encounter…that way someone can’t just horde the land…but must fight to protect it as well.
Well those are my thoughts about the different Zone types and what I would like if I were the man in charge. Went rather basic with my thoughts, but I’ll go into detail at the end of the article series if there’s a demand for it. Again I would LOVE some commentary on it here, on my twitter or even on my forums. Stay tuned for part 3 of my series, Looting Rules!
Also if you like my thoughts, I am recruiting!
Links to all the Articles so far...
Part 1 - PVP Rule Sets
Part 2 - PVP Zones