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News & Features Discussion  » General: Editorial: PvP Combat

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Novice Member

Joined: 1/07/04
Posts: 2425

OP  9/26/06 4:06:19 PM#1

Keith "Mayson" Sarasin talks about PvP in this new editorial, exclusive to Find out what he thinks, then give us your own thoughts in the comment thread below.

Player Verses Player; with one simple phrase many MMO players either smile or frown. It amazes me that still to this day people argue over this addition to a game. The cornerstone of its player base lives by it, while others frown on its addition. Player verses player or PvPas it is commonly referred to, takes place when MMO players come together to battle against each other. There are many debates on the way PvP is implemented in a game if at all. Some people love the idea and other people cannot stand it.

You can read more here.

Dana Massey
Formerly of
Currently Lead Designer for Bit Trap Studios


Novice Member

Joined: 12/17/03
Posts: 345

9/26/06 5:33:11 PM#2

Once again, the reply to this article leads to the home page, not to the forum.

Keith Sarasin said:

"Another controlling factor for people to misinterpret this cornerstone of the market is the fact that in game PvPers can also be misconstrued as “grievers.” 

I believe those PvPers are actually called griefers by those who hate PvP. Griever=someone sad about a loss. Griefer, as used in PvP=someone who causes another player grief, meaning ruins his gameplay. And why "misconstrued"? I think the term "griefer" is quite descriptive of a player who plays unfairly.

Obviously, I'm one who hates PvP. I think if it's done right and is the aim of the game, it obviously fits a need for some players. But, I also think PvPers are a minority, not a majority, except in games made specifically for player vs player. If PvP is included in a game that also has PvE, the game has to be balanced for the PvP, and I have yet to see that done well. I also think PvP would be a lot of fun if better ways could be found to curtail the problem of immature idiots who play only to take unfair advantage of lower level players. They are cowards, pure and simple.


Apprentice Member

Joined: 8/06/04
Posts: 157

9/26/06 5:44:08 PM#3

Two terms are actually misspelled here, as well as misused: 1) Griefer, as the poster above stated, is a person who actively tries to ruin the enjoyment of another player, and is not exclusive to PvP. A griefer can do this in a multitude of ways, depending on the game mechanics and how they can be exploited to interfere with another person's gaming experience. 2) Nerf is the correct spelling of a game modification that makes a player weaker due to altering something with the game mechanics, whether or not it directly affects the character, or indirectly affects them due to something outside their control being made stronger.

As to the merits of PvP, I have yet to see any. The drive of PvP is simple: to be the best in comparison to your opposition (other players), which from the outset puts you at odds with everyone around you. Teams may cooperate to beat other teams, but individually, people are always still aiming to defeat anyone around them, and will use any method available to them to do so. Unfortunately this involves less noble means than simply perfecting strategies, skill choices, and playstyle. Any exploit that is found will be used, unless the penalties are sufficiently harsh for doing so, and even then, many will still take those risks just to have a short-lived advantage over others. PvP has never, in my experience, encouraged anything remotely desirable in terms of human character, and I doubt it ever will.


Novice Member

Joined: 3/04/04
Posts: 52

9/26/06 5:56:02 PM#4
Yeah, I have to say this editorial was heavily one-sided. "I like PvP, and here's all the reasons it rocks and why other people are being silly about it".

I for one wouldn't mind PvP so much if it was implemented better and also if it wasn't a necessity. Let's take WoW for instance. On a PvP server, the enemy and allied zones are so close together that the lower zones are constantly under attack by enemy forces, making it difficult if not impossible for people to complete quests and level. This wouldn't be such a big deal if there was a way to stop it, but there isn't. When a person dies, all they have to do is run back from a graveyard, revive, rest up, then repeat the lowbie slaughter. The same thing goes for their much applauded Battlegrounds. You fight, you die, you revive and go at it again.

I forget which game it was, but there was a FPS where you would join a game, select a team, then go into a map to complete objectives. There were no respawns. If you got killed completing your objective, you died, and had to hope that the other players could complete it. To me, that's fun, even if I die because there's a sense of accomplishment. But then, that is also a skill game as opposed to a RPG, so it is of course much easier to implement such a system.

Until they do fix all the glaring issues with PvP, I won't play it. And if a game is ever stupid enough to enforce PvP on players that would rather just do quests and RP, then I won't be purchasing it.

Novice Member

Joined: 9/18/05
Posts: 5

9/26/06 6:21:20 PM#5
I think Keith needs to go back to his Language and English Composition classes before he's allowed to write another article. :D

Novice Member

Joined: 7/24/03
Posts: 42

9/26/06 8:02:59 PM#6

This topic has been beaten to death, but unfortunately it must be a creature from beyond the grave since this ‘undead’ discussion keeps coming back; and I guess rightly so.


See I come at this topic from the side of anti-PvP, and thus most of the pro-PvPer’s will just ignore my comments or pick it apart… non-the-less I wanted to voice and opinion.


What most people tend to overlook on this issue is there are three kinds of MMORPG players. The people who PvP, the people who don’t PvP, and the people who don’t care either way. I see this as a false view, since it’s clearly a ‘for’ or ‘against’ topic and there really is no room to sit on the fence.

I won’t go into how in PvP games there are grievers or exploit abusers and how this effects the other non-PvP (as well as PvP) players, but think of it this way… If I don’t want to PvP then why should I be forced to be killed on the whim of another player? Its bad enough that in the few games that don’t support PvP (and they seem to be getting fewer by the year) you have to deal with people cheating, kill stealing or just being an annoyance… but in a PvP game this is ten times worst since the end game is to be better than everyone else.


A few of the other posts have touched on the fact that PvP games aren’t geared towards everyone’s enjoyment especially in the MMORPG genre. More often then not many developer forget the fundamentals of fun when trying to be different, or as is happening often lately try to catch all groups of players (PvP and non) just to get a bigger market share.


So for me it’s easy, I play betas when I get the chance. Helping with bugs and whatever other tasks they ask of me, in return I get to sample the up and coming products (even if geared toward the PvPers). I have no subscription to any games at the moment though because none of them are what I’m looking for unfortunately.



"Common sense is NOT common!"


Novice Member

Joined: 1/07/04
Posts: 2425

OP  9/26/06 8:30:38 PM#7
Link and spelling fixed. My apologies. As to the editorial being one sided, that was kind of the point. It's his opinion

Dana Massey
Formerly of
Currently Lead Designer for Bit Trap Studios


Novice Member

Joined: 6/28/06
Posts: 17

9/26/06 9:11:54 PM#8
There seems to be a belief among the non-PvP'ers that PvP is about making other people feel bad.
This is a part of how it is, yeah - and there are some who believe that's the whole purpose of PvP - those that usually tend towards 'griefing'.
But most competitive players actually just want to test their skills out versus other players. I think the griefing part comes from games which encourage gaining more kills in PvP (Anarchy - whose PvP system is pretty good - has a ranking system based on No. of kills).
Also, don't forget that players who are a higher level than you have earned their place there (at least as much as is possible in a genre where time often has more value than skill) and that the griefed now can become (if they choose the dark side) the griefer later - or they can become that middle-breed, the anti-PvP'er.

It might be worth wondering why directly competitive team games like CS don't have as many active griefers, the players who hinder their own team are far less prominent and usually get bored of the games.
Perhaps we need to make PvP more fun to these people than frustrating the other players. How many of the PvP games allow small groups of players to make a real difference - I guess we'll have to see how Archlord plays out.

Let's not take the cheating and exploiting into consideration here - it taints the PvM just as much as the PvP, PvM is competitive too, just more indirectly.

Oh and as for the balance issues - we can do nought but hope.

PS: Devs need to start listening to something other than the vocal minority - too many nerfs are a kneejerk reaction to players feeling put upon, and threatening to leave the game.
Take some surveys people! The less vocal people will usually give their opinions when asked - they're just not shouting it from the rooftops.

Apprentice Member

Joined: 7/11/04
Posts: 40

9/26/06 10:00:16 PM#9

Well I know what annoys the crap out of me...

People that start playing a PvP centric game with a harsh death penlity then whine like little 4 year olds about having PvP and wanting it changed to suit their views/needs. Safer (not safe but safer) areas exist but the higher end content is not in the safe areas, some equipment does not allowed (or is a instant death sentance to use). But the the ones that don't want to PvP may want to access that equipment without going for the risk.

Its not hard to see what game I am refering to...but Notice I am not mentioning it so canwe pls keep the fames and claims of fanboyism out of it?

Incase anybody has missed my point if you don't like to PvP and don't want the chance of PvP don't play a game that features as a main desigin point and then complain about it actually happening. Its like complaining in CS that some git ruined your map exploreation by shooting you...


Novice Member

Joined: 9/18/06
Posts: 265

Take THAT, subspace!

9/26/06 10:05:12 PM#10

Originally posted by Brynn

If PvP is included in a game that also has PvE, the game has to be balanced for the PvP, and I have yet to see that done well.

That's not just a coincidence. Frankly, anyone who thinks that a progressive roleplaying game can be a competitive sport does not understand either concept.  The goals of the two types of games are completely contradictory. The goal of a role-playing game is to feel special and progressively more powerful. The goal of a competitive game is to make every player equal so they can compete on something like a fair basis. The problem is that fairness is the LAST thing any roleplayer wants -- including, or maybe even especially PK'ers.

There is no reason to suspect that PvP in such an environment can ever be anything remotely like war, or any sort of strategic challenge. The closest analogue is that it's something like "roleplaying" prison gangs: you keep a low profile and suckup to get on the good side of somebody more powerful, and you take yours in the beginning not because you like doing it at the time, but only in the hopes that someday you'll get to do the same thing to somebody else.

Unfortunately, even when PK'ing is segregated it still interferes with design of a roleplaying game. Anyone who's heard a game designer speak has heard him use the term "balance" at least once or twice - in nearly every sentence he utters.

How much better could a PvE game become if you completely eliminated this elephant-in-the-living-room sized design constraint? Well, I don't know because I don't think any MMORPG has tried it yet.

If I want to PvP, I play a game designed for that purpose. There are some truly great ones out there. But when I roleplay, the last thing in the world I care about is whether my character is "balanced" with every other one in the game. All I care about is whether my character is FUN! Whether he is "better" or "worse" than the one standing next to him could not possibly mean less to me.

But how many dozens - or hundreds - of features of the average MMORPG have been warped beyond recognition in the endless quest for the Holy Grail of Balance? And how many potentially kick-ass character class PvE abilities have been homogenized into yet another Jell-O mold to keep him from having an "unfair" advantage. Well, unfair to whom? I'll give you one guess and one clue: it's sure as heck not any of those poor, unfortunate computer-generated MOB's out there.

The bottom line is that MMORPG designers are diluting the experience of the majority of roleplayers to appease some hyperactive PK'ers. The squeaky wheel gets the grease - and they don't make 'em any squeakier than the kind of kid who wants to spend hundreds of hours building up a character so he can "gank" somebody who just wants to play a game.


Novice Member

Joined: 1/12/06
Posts: 433

"Ideas are bulletproof"

9/26/06 11:36:55 PM#11

Well, I agree with many of the people who replied, that this subject has been beaten to death.

In learning to design games of my own, especially in MMO's, the idea of balance is an illusion. What I mean by this, is that some one, no matter how hard you try, will find a way to beat the system.

Obviously you have to try to keep a sense of balance, in the way you design the classes and paths your players can take. One class can has one good ability, but yet another has the ability to counteract it and so on. As a dev you hope this works out in your code. It doesn't always, but it is correctable.

What I dislike is the swinging of the "nerf bat". The problem with developers and game companies in general is that they have to listen to their respective communities, and yet stay true to the orginal design of the game they have developed. Many do not do this at all. It's a delicate line that companies walk between community and design, and one that often gets blurred.

While I like both PvP'ing and RP'ing, with out a storyline to follow, neither of them are of much use. That is the thing that many MMO's lack today. Obviously players can make up their own stories, but without a general pronounced storyline, it just doesn't make much sense to do either.


Novice Member

Joined: 9/18/06
Posts: 265

Take THAT, subspace!

9/27/06 1:17:21 AM#12

Originally posted by Dracis

Obviously you have to try to keep a sense of balance, in the way you design the classes and paths your players can take.

Assuming you're talking about the topic of this thread: PvP and roleplaying, that statement is completely wrong. Of course there is no need whatsoever to balance those two issues.

There are tremendously popular PvP online games which contain no roleplaying PvE whatsoever.

And there is every reason to believe that a game designed to optimize the roleplaying PvE experience would be an even bigger success.

If some PvE roleplaying characters can kill MOB's a bit faster or more efficiently than the others, that is no big deal. Some min/maxers may gravitate toward the "ideal" classes, but a great many will prefer different styles and tactics with different characters.  When you're fighting MOB's it's SUPPOSED to be unfair.

But have you ever heard a PvP'er say: "Oh, heck, so what if we kill them a little slower than they kill us; what difference does it really make anyway?" Of course not. If one PvP class has even the tiniest advantage, then EVERYONE who PvP's will play that class and/or scream to high Heaven that it must be "fixed."

The graphic skins are just an illusion, remember? We are actually talking about using the same characters to accommodate two intrinsically adverse playstyles. And just "hoping it works out in the code" only lasts up until final alpha stage. By the time the game is released, hefty compromises are ALWAYS made to "even out" the classes.

"Nerf bat fever" isn't just a random affliction game God smites game designers with at a whim. There is a REASON it always ends up happening. And there is a simple way to avoid it.


Novice Member

Joined: 12/29/04
Posts: 204

9/27/06 1:55:20 AM#13

This is a topic that people will always disagree about. I've done a little PvP just for a change of pace, but I generally avoid it. I've played a few games where anyone could kill you, but I prefer the realm vs realm style like in WoW where you can feel safe when in the vicinity of your peers. I'm in the ArchLord beta and don't like the rampant PK there, with people just waiting for you to step out of town.

When you feel like 'living dangerously', PvP can give you a rush, but when you are trying to complete a quest, gaher crafting materials, etc. it tends to just be annoying and frustrating. That's why I wouldn't buy a game that has open PvP. My preference is a game that restricts it to designated areas like an arena and wastelands.

There is such a variety of ways that it can be implemented that its hard to make blanket statements about it (except people that only enjoy spoiling others fun are bad for any game). Some of the maon issues as I see it are:
- where is PK allowed?
- who can you attack?
- what rewards are there for killing someone?
- what are the penalties for getting killed?
- is there a penalty for killing a much lower level?
- is there a reputation system?

I think that most would agree that with a carefully designed set of rules to properly focus PvP and well balanced class skills, more players will be turned off by having PvP in a game than will be attracted by it.


Novice Member

Joined: 12/17/03
Posts: 345

9/27/06 7:06:20 AM#14
I want a strictly RPG, PvE, no PvP. Even if there is PvP only in restricted areas, there still has to be class balancing because it will be demanded by the PvPers. If a game starts out in development with no PvP planned, the forums fill up with posters demanding there be PvP. Why the heck don't they go play a PvP game if that's what they want?!! And let us role players have our PvE.

Novice Member

Joined: 8/10/04
Posts: 1532

9/27/06 7:51:20 AM#15
Having been around for a great number of years as a gamer I find that I am in both camps.  I enjoy pvp, when the devs allow it to be fun, and I enjoy pve, also if the devs allow for it to be fun.

For one thing I prefer fighting against other humans a bit moreso than against an AI.  Simply because AI is for the most part weak and uninspired in just about every mmo I have ever played.  Sure devs can throw millions of hitpoints on a boss mob and up the resistances, even making their special attacks and resistances be somewhat random but the simple fact of the matter is its still just algorithims programmed by a small number of people and can not react and adjust the way a human adversary can.

I also prefer pvp against similarly equipped and leveled characters because going after someone lower level with inferior equipment provides no challenge.  If I want no challenge ill go back to the pve side thankyou.  I would much rather go after a Goliath with my David for all intents and purposes than the opposite, though 2 Goliaths are far more fun.

What kills pvp for me is the way mmo's are designed.  Its not so much about player skill as it is about gear in todays mmos.  Gear and a skewed game of roshambo.  I think that Age of Conan might break the mold on this one but we will have to wait and see.  See if the developers sell out to the wow crowd with epics and raiding, or provide for a gamespace where the best skilled players will win regardless of how either of the combatants are geared.


Novice Member

Joined: 8/10/04
Posts: 1532

9/27/06 7:59:25 AM#16

Originally posted by Brynn
I want a strictly RPG, PvE, no PvP. Even if there is PvP only in restricted areas, there still has to be class balancing because it will be demanded by the PvPers. If a game starts out in development with no PvP planned, the forums fill up with posters demanding there be PvP. Why the heck don't they go play a PvP game if that's what they want?!! And let us role players have our PvE.

Brynn, I do not feel that the two are mutually exclusive.  In fact I would venture to say that pvp can make for a far more deep and engaging RP environment.  Also, I consider myself an oldschool roleplayer and do not enjoy being forced to choose from pve or pvp.  Just as I dont believe that a player should be forced into a pvp conflict if thats something they do not want.

But please, whatever you do, do not attempt to speak for all roleplayers because not everyone is exactly like you, just as no one is exactly like me. There may be more people that are able to adapt and rp successfully with more robust personal story lines thanks to a pvp system than you may envision.


Apprentice Member

Joined: 9/28/05
Posts: 1518

9/27/06 8:12:19 AM#17
First of all, i am the typical PvP player in MMORPGs, just to make clear from where i come.
But i am also a roleplayer, but to be honest i play pen&paper for roleplayeing, because the simple reason i have up to today never seen a real roleplay experience over a long time.

But this is all about definition, roleplaying has for me to do with playing a role, acting this role, and not as much with the stats bandwagoon the most online rpg or computer rpg player talk about. Stats form my side of view are just to define a frame within the charakter exist. Within this, it is not important how the exactly stats are, it is more important to know the different weakness and strenghten of the charakter, to play this out. As example a weak in strenght charakter, with great charisma, will act definitively in a complete other way as the extrem strong charakter with a really bad charisma, but it is almost irrelevant how exactly this stats are. Just to clarify my view of roleplaying.

Why come a lot of pvp players to mmorpgs?

Well, it is really simple, because it is a huge persistent world, where there doings actually have an effect in the world, or should have a effect in the world. Yes, they are here to compete against each other, and have a history in this world, they make a name of hisself his fighting style his behaviors. This is almost impossible in all other pvp games, like bf, rts games, or any other simple pvp multiplayer game. And they roleplay, even non roleplayers roleplay actually in a persistent pvp world, not really in the way we would normally talk about roleplaying.

But they have all different behavior, they play a role, and they also want to be special.

But from my viewpoint the most pvp mmorpgs today fail to really make a good pvp game, they are not really persistent, and you can not affect the world. The most games today mix pve and pvp together, and pvp is then implemented more like the normal multiplayer pvp games. You play a game, it is over, no effect in the world is left.. just look at DAoC, the frontiers are just one big multiplayer level, and even worst WoW with his battlegrounds.. if i want just such a reduced pvp experience, without any effect in the world i could also play BF or any RTS game.

So yes, i almost the same opinion as the most poster above, pve and pvp should be to different mmorpgs, and withit, you can make both better, because you could build up the game exactly for this requirements.

Good, it is maybe also a demand for mixed games, in which both experiences are reduced for new players, or players which want both to some extent. But i think the mmorpg market is nowadays big enough that not every mmorpg should offer all playstyles to catch as many players as possible, because in the long run, they will lose both with this tactic, the pure pve and pvp player, and this games have always a little bad taste withit.
  User Deleted
9/27/06 9:08:26 AM#18
People polarize this much too much.

Both UO and WOW have shown us that there are a good number of people out there that like to have a choice - not just in the same game but on the same server. In both UO and WOW, you can go about your day in either a PvE or PvP environment if you so choose.

Yes, the PvP side of each UO server is no where near as dense as the PvE side. I do not contest that at all. However, the fact that the PvP side is populated AT ALL in a 9-year old 2D MMOG indicates that there are still people out there that prefer a choice. The same with battlegrounds on a PvE WOW server... it's not as polarized as some might lead you to believe.

The blatant and unswaying hatred for PvP often results from people feeling they are forced into a playstyle that 1) they do not like and 2) negatively affects them.

Ashenvale, Stanglethorn Vale, Tarren Mill in WOW... they are PvP-centric areas in PvE environments. I'm not going to get into a rant about whether we should blame the players or the designers for the situations there, but those certainly are places where someone who is primarily a PvE player often learns that PvP isn't really anything they want to participate in... ever. :)

Novice Member

Joined: 3/18/04
Posts: 6

9/27/06 9:29:48 AM#19

Well, as has been stated, this topic has been beaten to death, and will continue to be. There will always be those who hate and those who love PvP. but there really IS a 3rd side - those of us who really, honestly don't care one way or the other. If I want to PvP or not, I will chose my game/server appropriately and not whine about the consequences if I get killed. That was my choice. If I'm playing an alliance character in WoW and casually walk into the Undercity, I should know what to expect and have no right to complain about the result.

What I truly DON'T like is being "forced" to PvP. It seems quite simple to just allow players to toggle it on or off and have their toons flagged appropriately. I know, I know, it's not as simple as that - the potential exploits are obvious, but something along those lines would be the ideal from my perspective. As a previous poster stated, there are people out there who want a choice.


"Vir, intelligence has nothing to do with politics" - Londo Mollari, Babylon 5


Novice Member

Joined: 8/25/06
Posts: 241

9/27/06 9:45:09 AM#20

About this editorial :
Like Raccoon, I think it's a really biased. The author is free to have his opinion of course ^^ but the article is based on the fact that PvP in a MMO always includes Open-PvP, and it's not true.

About the posts above :
I've read above that there are people who think PvP automatically involves griefing, PK or even cheating ! I'm sad to read such things ::::16::. You need to open your eyes, many (most) PvP players aren't like that.
Just because you got PKed 2-3 times while questing doesn't make all the PvPers bad people :)
And you must respect the wishes of the people who want PvP in MMOs.
At least 33.9% according to an poll ::::02:: (and no, 33.9% isn't a minority btw, since only 29% don't want PVP according to the same poll ::::20::) Does an MMORPG NEED PvP to be fun?

Waiting for: GW2
*thumbs up*: GW, Eve(, WoW)
*thumbs down*: MO, GA, FE

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