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Community Spotlight: Two or Three Factions?

Posted by MikeB Saturday August 13 2011 at 5:30PM
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This week's Community Spotlight focuses on the thread "I'm sick of 2 Faction systems, are you?" by Divion. As the thread title implies, Divion isn't quite happy with the two faction system prevalent in the MMO genre today. I'll let him explain the rest:

Am I the only one of tired of these 2 faction systems?
Even in WoW I wasn’t a fan of it, it didn’t make sense nor sate my desire for variety.
Warcraft 3 had 4 Main factions (Alliance {Humans, Gnomes, Dwarves, High Elves, and Later Blood Elf}, Horde {Orcs, Ogres, Goblins, Tauren}, Night Elves {Treants, Mountain giants, Wisps, Fae} Scourge {Undead, Zombies, Skeletons, Abominations, Ghouls, ect), and even 1 Sub-Faction, Naga (Blood Elves were later mix in with them)
Some how, and for some reason (Lazy Developers maybe), it was condensed into 2; Factions, the Signature Alliance, and Horde – This made for some rather 1 sided choices (Especially back during Vanilla when Paladin/Shaman were Faction restricted.), it also destroyed the Lore behind WoW (Night Elf Death Knights, Death Knights joining the ALLIANCE? WTF?).
To me having 4 factions would made more sense, with faction restricted classes being more widespread (Example, you could only be a Death Knight if you joined the Scourge, with your Faction Boss being no-other then the Lich King -- Paladins Alliance, Blade master Horde, Hunter Night Elves, ect).
How many factions are the right amounts? Is the notion of factions flawed at best? I remember the days of EQ when there was no factions only reputation, if your reputation was bad with the Dark Elves the NPC would kill you, you could change your “Factions” by improving or degrading your rep with hundreds of different combinations.
However, in EQ2 it was scrapped for a 2 party system (Good vs Evil).
What was your favorite Faction System? From what game?
For me, it was Lineage 2, it was player driven with castle sieges, and player owned terrain, open PvP.

So, what do the community think of the two faction system? Let's find out!

Asheram feels the problem with having more than two factions is having the population to sustain them:

The problem though arises if you dont have the population in a game to sustain more than 2 factions,and making each seperate faction desirable to play so the majority of that population doesnt all drift towards 1 faction therby unbalancing it even more.

I am sure if it was an easy thing to accomplish more developers would do it.

Jaco1101 actually feels Ultima Online's Trammel was the ideal solution:

Ultima Online really did it best even with Trammel.  You had faction wars in both Tram and Fel and if you simply wanted to pvp anytime or anywhere then Fel is where you wanted to be. 

Just in case you didn't experience it, Trammel and Fel mirrored each other as in basically identical worlds if you will.  In Trammel, pvp was only consensual unless you were in a faction war which was voluntary.  Fel was the 1/2 of the game where pvp was open and anyone could be attacked.  There were consequences of becomming a murderer (stat loss for x amount of time) that sort of thing.

Lawlmonster would do away with factions completely:

I'd much rather games be factionless for the players, not necesarily for the NPC's, and allowed the community at large to form their own guilds, corporations, organizations, allegiances and enemies. It's far more interesting, but it's also a personal preference.

I've actually never experienced the three faction system in an MMO, but from my vast experience with the dual faction system it's easy to see the benefits of three factions over two. The two faction system gives way to the zerg vs. zerg mentality, whereby the side with the highest amount of players tends to win. Introducing a third faction as a potential wildcard would really spice things up.

I'd have loved to see Star Wars: The Old Republic feature an Underworld or independent faction as a third faction (Bounty Hunters, Smugglers, Slicers, Gray Jedi perhaps?), unfortunately that isn't the case. On the plus side, Guild Wars 2 will feature "World vs. World vs. World" PvP and this may be just what some of you are looking for.

So, what are your thoughts on the two or three faction systems? Let us know in the comments below!

Mike-McQueen writes:

More the merrier.

Sat Aug 13 2011 5:40PM Report
Slapshot1188 writes:

3 factions makes for a much more interesting mix of conditions.  This is particularly true is the 3 factions are actually made up of different classes/skills instead of reskinned clones.

Sat Aug 13 2011 5:45PM Report
Divion writes:

Ooooo my 2nd Spotlight Thread... THANKS! You guys rock!

Sat Aug 13 2011 6:22PM Report
someforumguy writes:

3 Factions. Or guild vs guild can work too.

Sat Aug 13 2011 7:33PM Report
Raventree writes:

Three factions worked perfectly in DAoC.  The two weak factions often teamed up or "ignored" each other long enough to fight the stronger one.  Then they turned on each other and a good time was had by all.  The other option that I think might be interesting is a factionless setup where guilds and alliances determined who you could attack.  Make it consensual only, unless your guild or allied guilds are at war. 

Sat Aug 13 2011 8:05PM Report
Orthelian writes:

Having three factions is more mathematically and logistically interesting, but honestly, I just really hate having The Good Guys and The Bad Guys. All factions need to be compelling Good Guys and hateful Bad Guys for different types of people.

Sat Aug 13 2011 8:52PM Report
Halibrand writes:

Two static factions (Red vs Blue) works great for FPS games where the game gets reset after the map is finished.  But for an ongoing game it's limited and boring.  And in my opinion quite stupid from a development viewpoint: adding in more than the Red vs Blue mechanic, as well as the ability to work towards switching factions, creates more gameplay hours for players.  Creating more gameplay hours for players is a Developer's job, and it baffles me when they ignore an avenue like this.


I agree with everyone else comdemning how Red vs Blue is turned into Good vs Evil in MMORPGs.  It's a simple-minded and dismissive way of approaching the material, and utterly ridiculous because the characters and factions, regardless of their Good or Evil label, go out and behave exactly the same way.  They're rewarded and punished for doing the exact same things.  It's hard to have respect for any creator that treats their audience like they're simplistic or dumb.  If someone's going to go with the Good vs Evil schtick, I'd at least expect them to come up with a completely different set of goals, rewards, and punishments for each faction at would befit the philosophy that faction represents.


But yeah, I'm all for having more than two factions in a game, as well as the ability to change factions (through gameplay, not a $24.95 fee, and not just gaining reputation to be able to buy one more item off their vendor).

Sat Aug 13 2011 9:39PM Report
Xondar123 writes:

I'd like to see a game with an unlimited number of fluid factions. Some would be NPC developer designed factions, others would be player factions created with tools in the game (think mega-guilds, guilds that are entire nations.)

Sat Aug 13 2011 10:21PM Report
WhySoShort writes:

The main reason that most games have only two factions is because three faction conflicts are so rare in the real world. 

Sat Aug 13 2011 11:49PM Report
redpins writes:

It's not about laziness, it's about how immersive can they make multiple factions. How can they play out? The world your suggesting is being factionless (which is a fantastic idea). The decisions you make should effect how the world labels you and reacts to you. It's much more immersive and content rich than just labeling factions someone joins.

Sat Aug 13 2011 11:57PM Report
Kendane writes:

I loved DAoC's system, as someone wrote before, if two factions were weaker than the 3rd, they ignored each other until everything was a level playing field, or as level as it was going to get.  If I couldn't get 3 factions, than I would prefer one set up like EQ1.  You had faction(whats generally referred to reputation now) that you could genearally raise or lower depending on what/who you killed.  Sure it might cause issues with PvP, but than you can sort of split the factions like EQ1 did on Vallon and Tallon Zek.  I just thought the world was much more interesting when we were restricted to either two side, or any sides really.

Sat Aug 13 2011 11:58PM Report
heocat writes:

Dark versus light worked well on tallon zek in Evercrack but then $ony bought the game and changed it all.  too bad really.  But it led me to DAOC the best of the best so worked out well for me.

Sun Aug 14 2011 12:26AM Report
Draemos writes:

I'm sincerely at a loss as to why a good 3 faction system hasn't been implemented after DAoCs success w/ it.  It's a widely praised design concept, and it doesn't make any sense to me why nobody seems willing to implement it into their game design.

Sun Aug 14 2011 4:20AM Report
Saorlan writes:

Anyone who played PlanetSide will know how good a three way fight can be than a 2 sided. 

Every tactical decision you make is based on 2 different enemies therefore has much more depth of though to it.

2 sides is boring and always will be. 

Sun Aug 14 2011 5:58AM Report
Senadina writes:

3 factions is my preferred method. I'm very glad that The Secret World is taking the 3 faction approach.

Although there is something to be said for EQ's reputation mechanic, except I would make it more transparent and not as obtuse.

Sun Aug 14 2011 10:19AM Report
Sideras writes:

We are seeing alot of 3 factions games on the horizon. Planetside 2, Guild Wars 2, The Secret World and Prime.

So Im glad, I just hope The Secret World will really impress me at gamescom.

Sun Aug 14 2011 11:30AM Report
Metsis writes:

Would have loved to have seen a more "open" system in SWToR for example. I'd love to have seen a system where you start as neutral and the decisions you make on the way lead you to your "destined" side, be it Rebuplic or Empire or even Neutral. That would have really made for some replayability for the game.

I would just like to see a game where "your faction" isn't your first choice while creating a character... I think it would be a welcome addition to this whole thing. How the hell do you even know which side you want to pick when you start unless they are labeled Good Guys and Bad Guys.

I'm happy that the factions in ToR are not limited to Light and Dark side though. Although I'd like to see a quest chain in which you could change your faction if you went to far off to the wrong side of things. Thus mixing the character classes a bit and making for a more equal PVP setting with all classes as options on both sides. But this we won't see, at least not yet.

Everyone start off as generic "classless" character and then you do some starter missions and end up with a faction. Then you decide which class you will become as part of being trained by the specific faction. A more "in game" character development system. This would also give much more credence to the whole "story" aspect that is so lacking in the MMO games. Killing the princess at the end of the quest chain or saving her would detemine the faction, it would certainly create for a great story starter.

Never played a 2+ faction game, so can't really tell how they work. The Warhammer games should have had like half a dozen factions on each side, in a loose alliance with each other. And game events should have been able to trigger wars between "friendly" factions. A Warhammer game with 2 factions is just plain wrong. No way Orks would work with Dark Eldar etc. That's why the WH40k MMO is already ruined. And the "good guys" aren't really keen of each other either...

And in conclusion, I would just like to point out, if any devs are reading, faction shifts would make for some very intresting in game world EVENTS! Also would work as a good way to "balance" sides if the balance was too much off... Just saying.

Sun Aug 14 2011 1:21PM Report
Sulaa writes:

Simple no faction , 3 factions or even better ability for players to break a race from one faction to other or create from this faction new separate faction. (ArcheAge will allow that ! :) )

Sun Aug 14 2011 2:21PM Report
HurricanePip writes:

My favorite was AoC's FFA approach.  Give the players a structure, but let them have control to create interesting social conditions.  Factions should be much more fluid than they currently are in the WoW and soon to be TOR era. 

Two factions is lazy and I've been saying that for years too.  The RTS example was also why I thought restricting MMOs to 2 factions was very 1995.  It doesn't even make sense from a balance perspective, especially in PvP.

Sun Aug 14 2011 2:26PM Report
HurricanePip writes:

Just want to be clear though, AoC was not actually a good game though.  Had some good ideas and a lot of really poor design choices.  FFA was a lot of fun for about 35-40 levels with a good guild on one of the PvP servers.  At launch, the game broke down in a number of areas after that though.

Sun Aug 14 2011 2:29PM Report
MMOExposed writes:

As somebody stated. 2 faction works best when the population is balanced, Hint Hint (Instanced PvP)


Instanced PvP is the new popular norm now days. Players now days dont tolorate ganking. So Instanced PvP is the new age trend. And 2 Faction works best in there.


Until somebody show us how great 3 faction works in Instanced PvP, the 3 faction system will never replace 2 factions.

Sun Aug 14 2011 2:45PM Report
ZoeMcCloskey writes:

Three or more, period for a PvP game.

Sun Aug 14 2011 4:26PM Report
fadis writes:

There has been almost no AAA innovation in the PvP area for nearly 10 years.... most would say it has been regression.

Smaller companies have tried - but I think they have been undone by poor execution and simply not meeting basic quality standards that have been set by the bigger games...

WoW presented a very profitable model - and companies have since tried to copy it for profit....

Innovation and trying REAL new stuff... rather than new stuff that is basically old stuff with a minor tweak requires guts and risk... no longer are thousands of $$$ at stake, but 10's of millions....


Sun Aug 14 2011 5:31PM Report
Golelorn writes:

I have to go with 2 factions. In DAoC one of the factions, each server was different, was always severely underplayed.

Midgard was the FOTM before the LA nerf, with hib being underplayed, and then after NF hib exploded(shrooms and stuns YAY), and left Midgard almost completely empty.

Sun Aug 14 2011 5:42PM Report
Dengar writes:

lol, just recently did a blog on this:

Long story short, the 2 model system fails. Someone tried to argue that it's more realistic, i.e. WW2 was allies vs axis, but that's not the case. Enemies become allies, allies become enemies, etc. WW2 ended, and our "Russian allies" sorta kinda didn't get along with us afterwards. That's why, at the very least, a 3 sided factions war where people choose their sides rather than are assigned to them based on their race or character creation options works best if, for some reason, you really don't want to allow players to create their own factions.

Sun Aug 14 2011 5:43PM Report
TheCrow2k writes:

3 factions. Having 4 factions would likely see a 2+2 alliance or co-operation anyway. Where with an uneven number like 3 you are going to get situations where A & B are fighting it out. then C swoops in at the end wipes out the depleted victors & claims the prize for themsleves.


It makes the world feel more exciting & dynamic. Warhammer online PvP would not have stagnated like it did if they had 3 factions.

Sun Aug 14 2011 6:54PM Report
brett7018 writes:

Definately 3 factions, as it was in DAoC (classic).  Would LOVE to see this again with modern graphics/UI and AI. 

How can no one, not even EA Mythic, realize that this is what made DAoC so awesome?  I am stumped...

Sun Aug 14 2011 7:48PM Report
Antipodean writes:

3 factions a la original DAoC gets my vote.

Sun Aug 14 2011 11:28PM Report
megera23 writes:

3 Factions or FFA, is all I have to say.

Mon Aug 15 2011 1:23AM Report
Sanity888 writes:

NEITHER! We need player-made factions to dominate the MMORPG market! I'm sick of playing in a world created by the developers, give the players the tools to create what they want instead of what they are forced into!

Mon Aug 15 2011 8:03PM Report
movros99 writes:

DAOC.  Nuff said.

Fri Aug 19 2011 11:55PM Report
Vercinorix writes:

Any fixed faction system is likely to have population imbalance issues. No persistent world game I have ever played that had fixed factions has not suffered from this problem (including DaoC).

Since DaoC has been thrown around as an example I'll give two examples from DaoC where it failed.

The more general example is that the DaoC developers had to implement an artificial population based 'evener' system where a faction on a server got scaling bonuses to their abilities in game based on how much smaller their population was.

The specific example was from the Pellinor server, where for a long time in Old Frontiers the Albion (King Arthur) faction was larger than both the Midgard and Hib factions put together. The large scale RvR on that server broke down when the Albs got organized enough to run a systematic campaign over a period of several months where first the mids, then the hibs were targeted and the Albs proceeded to demonstrate that they could take and hold the frontier at will, and there was nothing that either the Mids or the Hibs could do about it.  After that, large scale RvR was dead on Pellinor till New Frontiers.

A player based faction system just plain offers the most flexibility and ability to adjust to actual playing conditions.

Sat Sep 10 2011 12:06PM Report
Jcgelin writes:

Not a huge fan of the good vs evil myself. I would have to say I think a great idea for a dev to look into is why not try a 2 or 3 faction game with the option to be neutral or factionless if you wanted. Theyre would be benifits (buffs,items,maybe higher xp rates for being in a faction) but the draw back being opened to ganks and what not while your in them. I don't think joining the faction would have to be perminent but coming and going as you please should not be easy or everyone would just leave a faction when questing and wanting to be safe(and thats no fun) might as well be instanced if that was the case. but maybe if you join you need to stay in it for a certtain amount of time or untill you finish some objective or penalties for leaving and so on. This game would fit hardcore pvpers and carebares alike(Can't we all just get along and fight without all the conflicts)LOL. But really this game would be interesting none the less 3 factions would be great but the reason i said or 2 is cause population may not be as high as needed for 3 plus nuetrals. 

Mon Dec 05 2011 11:22PM Report writes:
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