Due to the length of both Tobold’s post about impact PvP and my reply, I’ll just quote him below and write my response here.
Doesn’t “meaningful PvP” automatically mean a form of PvP where you really hurt other players’ progress in some way? If every form of PvP which constantly resets and doesn’t hurt players all that much is considered meaningless, but people will quit games where losing PvP really hurts, how could meaningful PvP possibly work?
I think the above is a good summery of how many view PvP, and especially impact PvP, and the common misconceptions of WHY those who enjoy it continue to play. I’ll start by saying that I do believe impact PvP is a niche in the genre, one that far more people BELIEVE they want then actually do. That said, in 2009 the niche is big enough to support well-executed MMOs like DarkFall, or MMOs with impact PvP as a key element to their overall formula like EVE Online. Candy rainbow themeparks certainly have a higher market potential (how’s chasing that potential working out for TR or WAR?), but impact PvP is a viable choice for profit if the proper business plan, along with good game design, is followed.
The first thing about impact PvP is that yes, someone has to lose, and that loss CAN’T be trivial like it is in a themepark. But non-trivial does not directly mean the loss has to ‘hurt’, in that the loser now feels less inclined to continue playing and wants to quit. In DarkFall one of the biggest loses any clan can sustain is to have their city sieged and taken. A clan city is the center of everything you do, it’s a place you put a ton of work in to build up, and it becomes your ‘comfort zone’ in an otherwise harsh world. On the EU server many guilds broke and quit after losing their city, and this could lead someone to believe that the impact of such PvP ultimately leads to a games demise.
Yet on NA we are not seeing this happen, and many guilds that have lost cities relocate and reorganize. My take on this is that back on EU, a lot of the players playing back then THOUGHT they wanted an impact PvP game, yet when things got rough they tucked tail, packed up, and went back to whatever safe haven they came from. In short, those players were not part of the niche, and it took a little time for this to correct itself and for the real community to establish itself.
But even losing a city in DarkFall does not really ‘hurt’ another player. The character you have built up is still there, and most importantly, the PLAYER SKILLS you posses can’t be taken away. Sure your previous ‘comfort zone’ is now gone, but that just means you find another part of the world to live out of, learn and adjust to that, and in time either reclaim your home or find a new one. For those in the niche, while losing your home does indeed suck, it also has some benefits to it as well, and it’s new content for your clan driven not by a patch every 6 months but daily by the player community. A new location leads to new encounters, both PvE and PvP, a new area to familiarize yourself with, and whoever took your city is now someone you will be eager to strike back at, perhaps by allying yourself with someone if you need help.
But the real key to whether impact PvP works or not stems from this:
but people will quit games where losing PvP really hurts
This is true for most people (in life and in the MMO genre), but not of the impact PvP niche. You SHOULD go into DarkFall knowing that you will have bad days, or possibly even weeks. You will get ganked, you will be zerged, you will fight better players, and you will lose gear or even a city. If any of the above happening will make you quit the game, it’s not the right game for you. All of the above, while I still get pissed when they happens to me, are the reason I play the game to begin with. Dying in Warhammer or WoW won’t make me quit, but respawning for the thousandth time to rush back in pointlessly WILL make me quit once I grow bored, and I’ll grow bored far soon of that than the day I ragequit because someone took some pixel from me in DarkFall. I’ll fight like hell to protect those pixels, and in the realm of MMOs those pixels are ‘kind of a big deal’ compared to pixels in WoW/WAR, but for me any game that can draw the very real emotions of hate AND accomplishment is one worth playing, and DarkFall does that in spades. In the context of playing a game, I care far more about what happens in DarkFall than I ever did about Warhammer’s realm war.
In an MMO, non-impact PvP to me is like playing poker with monopoly money. The actual game might be the same, but I grow bored very quickly regardless if my stack of pretend money is growing or shrinking. People also play very differently, despite the rules being the same, as they will chase bad odds and call large bets, all because it’s ‘just for fun’. Nothing is LESS fun for me than having someone make a donkey call in poker because they don’t care about the odds and just want to see if they get lucky and catch something. Add in real money, be it for quarters or hundreds, and I’ll happily play for hours on end, and now I’ll welcome that bad player making donkey calls, because my ‘impact’ to his wallet is going to be very, very real.
I play for money in poker, I play to win in beer-league softball, and I enjoy impact PvP in my MMO. Are you part of that niche?