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Tactical Retreat

Posted by vajuras Wednesday March 26 2008 at 9:10AM
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I think finding the right balance between giving players the option to make contingency plans and the freedom for that to be taken away is a tough line. I think right now in MMORPG space most games are at the extreme (too easy to escape vs too hard to leave a battle).

I think the main thing we need is for the ability to survey the battlefield and compute our chances of success before engaging in a battle. If its a battle I cant hope to win- then yes I believe it might benefit the players to have an exit strategy. However, escape itself should be a fine art- not something so easily done. And escape should really only be an option *before* engagement has been initiated.

One thing I really thinks get in the way of making contingency plans is 'Stealth'. If players can outright hide in plain view, then this disables pvper's ability to properly analyze the battlefield and make tactical decisions. On the other hand, we also can really use some form of stealth to a degree. It opens up a lot of tactical options for players.

I'm still not sure how to classify EVE Online. Sometimes it appears its almost impossible to make a tactical assestment due to Stealth and Warp Scrambling. Once you get scrambled you're locked down and must fight it out. If you decide to make the call and instruct your gang to flee, then chances are some members will be lost. It's a fine line but I'm thinking EVE Online nailed this one better then most.

In World of Warcraft and it's ilk, Stealth is crazy overpowered. You can hit stealth in the middle of a fight and pretty much escape at will. Another problem stealth can present, if I cannot find the pirates that has just been killing my friends then I cannot enforce order. Stealth allows players to pick fights they can win utterly if not balanced quite right. But on the other hand there are games like City of Heroes where players can acquire loads of +perception thus making Stealth nearly useless in high level pvp.

In the end, I still think FPS games and other genres still have probably the best PVP because Stealth is based on "player skill". If I think a stealthed player is near me in Battlefield 2142 for instance, I can shoot them. They are merely hard to see and it works very nice I play a Recon in that title.

What's even more disturbing is games where its too easy to escape an unfavorable encounter. In City of Heroes, it almost felt like you were fighting cowards 95% of the time. I had to design my build intentionally so I could catch any player on foot to finish them off. People will take off as soon as their health starts to get pretty low. I think these are the situations we want to avoid. Make it unfavorable to escape from a fight you've engaged in. There might be a few different approaches that can be applied. In EVE Online, you'll be Warp scrambled at the begining of an encounter making escape impossible. That's effective but boy does it hurt being on the receiving end of that.

Off hand, I must say I drastically prefer EVE Online approach over most any other title. I'd rather die over and over when my "space" is being blockade by warp scrams rather then having to chase cowards around the map. This makes professions viable such as blockade breakers (yep theres ship designed for this), Recons, and suicide pilots.

It's really a fine line designing PVP titles. There is really so many little things to look out for.

zergwatch writes:

Fleeing is part of PVP. You can't expect people to just sit there and die when things go south.   A well made pvp game will give people the ability to flee.   It will also give better skilled players the ability to catch the fleeing people.

Wed Mar 26 2008 10:10AM Report
banaaantje writes:

In lineage 2 there as an escape scroll effect that is instant (normal ones last 10 seconds and can easily be interrupted by damage).

This Blessed Scroll of Escape is quite costly but sometimes saves you from xp loss, where it usually is worth it to dish out a bit of money. Especially if itll cost you 6hrs of grinding time. Though it is cheap sometimes if people bsoe from you, it still is a victory for you, in a way. Not as satisfying, but it still is.

Also, bsoeing is a very cowardice card to play, so most people rather take the death in honor than BSOE away from an enemy. That is ofcourse in games where people are really known and deaths matter. (Ie, games where it takes a long time to lvl, no real use making alts, minimum server transfer/namechange).

 

Wed Mar 26 2008 10:47AM Report
Anofalye writes:

I am not much in PvP, but I find it funnier when it is hard to chase then when it is hard to flee.  CoX is fun for me on this topic, often I am soo focused on surviving the encounter and then...oh, my opponent flee.  :P  Yay for me!

 

Chasing someone down is an art, and the only successfull chase I did was to follow someone, where he hid beside his friend...kill him there...and then flee back myself...his friend helps him, but didn't even try to give in the chase when I flee­...I was 3 feets away and he was already turning side.

 

Having great escapes options could also be considered, more or less, as consensual PvP.  (great escape options also means great chasing/prowling options, however, it is a lot more complex for a chaser when you have to consider the Z axis).

Wed Mar 26 2008 11:12AM Report
vajuras writes:

zergwatch- "Fleeing is part of PVP. You can't expect people to just sit there and die when things go south.   A well made pvp game will give people the ability to flee.   It will also give better skilled players the ability to catch the fleeing people."

This is true but like I pointed out its a fine line. Give players the ability to flee and make it too easy like Anofalye says the result is "consentual pvp" or aka pointless pvp where no one ever dies and no one ever wins.

If players flee then fine, but there needs to be a Victory condition. In EVE Online, if a corp decides to flee when their POS is being sieged thats okay- the victory takes possesion of their space. Same rule applies to Battlefield-FPS as well. If my enemy leaves then I take possesion of their assets

What I'm trying to point out in the absence of a victory condition and you give players ability to "run away" that robs us of all point of PVP. There is no conclusion- its just a simple game of "tag".

We dont want that. I say its much better to make it impossible to flee OR have a victory condition in place if you allow players to run away (like we have in EVE and other genres).

Wed Mar 26 2008 12:22PM Report
JB47394 writes:

I'm grind-averse.  So escapes can go two ways.

1. Escape is easy.  This would be my preference when a game has a grind associated with recovering from being unable to escape.  Eve Online's warp scramblers make escape impossible, meaning the loss of a ship or even a clone.  Then there is the grind to get back to an equivalent clone and ship.  Not my preference at all.  Let me decide how much grinding I'm going to do, not other players (the same point that states why griefers are particularly annoying in grind games).

2. Escape is difficult.  This would be implemented in games that have no grind associated with recovery from a defeat.  Players really wouldn't worry about escape in such games.  They'd slug it out without fear of having to grind out a recovery.

The first option is the way I'd go for a virtual world.  The second option is the way I'd go for a pure game, such as chess.  Your game pieces are easy obtained and easily lost, so escape is not a big deal.  At that point, escape only becomes interesting as a point of gameplay; how the potential for escape and reengagement alters the way that the game pieces interact.

What I don't want is a game that has difficult escapes and big grinds.  And that is Eve Online's notion of PvP.  What a nightmare.

There is also the stupidity of any system that prevents a player from operating their avatar or ship or whatever.  I ran into a fearing and mind controlling monster in World of Warcraft.  It was among the worst experiences I've ever had in a game.  If I wanted to have my character controlled by somebody else, I'd watch somebody else play the game.

Wed Mar 26 2008 12:28PM Report
vajuras writes:

anofalye - "I am not much in PvP, but I find it funnier when it is hard to chase then when it is hard to flee.  CoX is fun for me on this topic, often I am soo focused on surviving the encounter and then...oh, my opponent flee.  :P  Yay for me!"

What's funny they almost had it though. So close. If they didnt have the 'bluelining" whereas a player could escape to a safe zone it might have been a bit better. It was very satisfying chasing down my targets and polishing them off after they panicked but it would've been much better if it would've been much harder for them to escape.

With just a bit more tweaking they could have really had more enjoyable pvp in the zones.

At least Arenas was pretty fun because there was no escape once you entered. You could flee but eventually you will be caught :P

Wed Mar 26 2008 12:29PM Report
vajuras writes:

banaatje - "In lineage 2 there as an escape scroll effect that is instant (normal ones last 10 seconds and can easily be interrupted by damage)."

 

Interesting, I didnt know Lineage 2 had scrolls like that... Without playing the game more its hard to comment. I can for sure see why gamers would seek out that scroll heh

Wed Mar 26 2008 12:42PM Report
vajuras writes:

Grrrr, JB you stink for making me knee jerk.

"1. Escape is easy.  This would be my preference when a game has a grind associated with recovering from being unable to escape. "

Yeah I see what you're saying. But consider we're talking bout EVE Online here where players own terriority in 0.0 space. It's like a tresspasser breaks into your house and escapes with your assets. You dont want him escaping easily right?

2. Escape is difficult.  This would be implemented in games that have no grind associated with recovery from a defeat.  Players really wouldn't worry about escape in such games.  They'd slug it out without fear of having to grind out a recovery.

The first option is the way I'd go for a virtual world.  The second option is the way I'd go for a pure game, such as chess.  Your game pieces are easy obtained and easily lost, so escape is not a big deal.  At that point, escape only becomes interesting as a point of gameplay; how the potential for escape and reengagement alters the way that the game pieces interact."

 

Chess has Victory Conditions JB. An mmo without a victory condition is surely pointless and should be a PVE game and better served with Arenas / Instanced pvp.

I gotta run. I'm leaving my original comment cause whats said is said but it was a knee jerky response :(

Wed Mar 26 2008 12:57PM Report
vajuras writes:

okay fixed my original comment to JB. I want to point out that people not running when there's no death penalty is a myth tho. Pvpers we value our pride very much so many people will just take off if you let them. Perhaps its a 'strategy' in itself depending on the situation (run away, get help, come back)

 

It's a fine line. No one can be right or wrong here per se

Wed Mar 26 2008 1:08PM Report
zergwatch writes:

Fleeing is not a defeat and there should not be victory conditions for it.    I always play stalker/assassin roles in mmorpg.  I am a lone stalker.    If 4 people see me while I'm ready to pick one off and I escape from them they should not be rewarded for anything.     Good people catch me.  In any game i've played, the general population does not know enough about how to catch an assassin, but it is possible and good players do it.    The ones who don't know how to, usually run to the game's forums and cry nerf.

Like i said, the mechanics to stop a fleeing person need to be there... In any mmorpg i played as a stealth/assassin type, there have been ways to counter it.  People just don't take the time to learn how to counter things in MMORPG's.  

Wed Mar 26 2008 9:36PM Report
JB47394 writes:

vajuras: "It's like a tresspasser breaks into your house and escapes with your assets. You dont want him escaping easily right?"

I don't want a game that permits trespassers to break into my house, nor do I want one that permits me to break into anyone else's house.  As a result, the point is moot.  As are all other game constructs that result in the need for implementation of warp scramblers, mind control, snares, stuns and all other game mechanisms that prevent players from continuing to play the game.  That is, operating their avatar.

vajuras: "Chess has Victory Conditions JB"

Victory conditions are essential.

vajuras: "Perhaps its a 'strategy' in itself depending on the situation (run away, get help, come back)"

This tells me that it is not escape that should trigger the victory condition, but that games need to implement Gentlemen's Rules.  Under those rules, if you have sustained all the damage that you are willing to tolerate, then you push the Uncle button which means that you are now a non-combatant and will withdraw.

In general, I'd say that combat systems should encourage both sides to want to disengage.  So if one side wants to run away, the other side should tend to want to let them.  In contrast, current PvP systems provide incentives to ensure that players pursue and kill their enemies.  Honor points.  Looting.

vajuras: "No one can be right or wrong here per se"

In the case of entertainment, it's primarily about preferences.  I've stated mine.  They tend to focus on systems that attract people who like a standup fight by gentlemen's rules.

Ethically, there are certainly rights and wrongs involved with gaming (including this system discussion) but I won't go into those here.

Wed Mar 26 2008 9:36PM Report
vajuras writes:

JB writes-

"I don't want a game that permits trespassers to break into my house, nor do I want one that permits me to break into anyone else's house.  As a result, the point is moot.  "

Yeah but you preceeded to talk about EVE online in your post in which makes all that possible. It's fine that you dont want that type of game but you did try to post points about it

 

 

"1. Escape is easy.  This would be my preference when a game has a grind associated with recovering from being unable to escape.  Eve Online's warp scramblers make escape impossible, meaning the loss of a ship or even a clone.  Then there is the grind to get back to an equivalent clone and ship.  Not my preference at all.  Let me decide how much grinding I'm going to do, not other players (the same point that states why griefers are particularly annoying in grind games)."

like someone else pointed out this is all covered by insurance systems and EVE alliances normally provide additional ship replacement programs. I know my Corp builds my ships for me

This is why I always advocate PLAYING mmorpgs. You cant just read their FAQ and make assumptions. Why do you think Corps group together? It's a mutual benefit to the members and to that corporate entity.

"This tells me that it is not escape that should trigger the victory condition, but that games need to implement Gentlemen's Rules.  Under those rules, if you have sustained all the damage that you are willing to tolerate, then you push the Uncle button which means that you are now a non-combatant and will withdraw."

I'm sorry but that sounds like something that wont sell. The stuff I blog about sells $$$ and is all based on proven gameplay mechanics. In Asia for example some of the leading pvp mmos employ looting, gambling, and every other decret activity under the sun

 

 

 

Wed Mar 26 2008 9:55PM Report
JB47394 writes:

vajuras: "like someone else pointed out this is all covered by insurance systems and EVE alliances normally provide additional ship replacement programs. I know my Corp builds my ships for me"

If that works for you, great.  It doesn't suffice for me.

vajuras: "This is why I always advocate PLAYING mmorpgs. You cant just read their FAQ and make assumptions."

Okay.  Next time we discuss a game that I've only read the FAQ on I'll keep that in mind.

vajuras: "I'm sorry but that sounds like something that wont sell."

It undoubtedly wouldn't be a blockbuster success.  There are too few gentlemen among gamers.

Thu Mar 27 2008 7:51AM Report
vajuras writes:

I shouldnt have been such a butt here I think JB made some really good points.

Wed Apr 09 2008 12:05PM Report
Melf_Himself writes:

Being able to stop an enemy from moving is a generally useful, powerful strategical tool that should be in all mmo's even if it is never desirable to retreat.

I'll illustrate by talking about Guild Wars, since I'm used to how high level PvP works there. There will often be 1-2 ranged characters (per team of 8) who are practically devoted to restricting movement, with a little bit of spike assist thrown in. On top of that, the melee characters almost always have knockdowns and speed buffs to help snare their victims.

So in normal gameplay, there's a rich interaction between using snares to aid your offense OR aid your defense, and in using shutdown techniques to stop the enemy from using their snare abilities on your team.

When it comes to retreating, the skills carry over very well to aid/stop that. So I think as long as you have a GOOD system for snaring in place, your game will support tactical retreating (by good, I mean there are counters to the snare effects).

Just being able to turn invisible mid-combat is a fairly lame way out, as others said, it's either dominating (if there's a character around with high anti-stealth perception), or useless (if there isn't).

A gentleman's agreement in the middle of a war zone is also a fairly lame way out IMO (I'm sorry, I like the death sounds people make ^^)

It should ALWAYS be desirable to retreat, but the player shouldn't be punished excessively for not doing so, so it shouldn't be THAT desirable (I'm against full looting in pvp).

Sun Apr 27 2008 10:08PM Report

MMORPG.com writes:
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