Impact PvP: Are you part of the niche?

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?

55 Responses to Impact PvP: Are you part of the niche?

  1. Tipa says:

    I lost tens of millions of ISK of ships and all my implants this weekend when I was podded in EVE PvP; I still play, I love the game too much. And yet I don’t feel any urge to play in fantasy MMO PvP.

    Doing a retrospective on “EQ Killer” MMOs from 2001 got me wondering about real impact PvP. Would you still play if every time you died, you had to start over from scratch with a new character? Permadeath was something the hardcore PvP elite of 2001 were crying for, and yet it has never made it into an MMO.

    • syncaine says:

      It’s hard to talk about perma-death without any major MMO trying it. Under the right system I think it could work, but it would be a MAJOR shift in thinking for many MMO players, let alone gamers playing WoW. Somewhat surprising though that we have not seen a single game try it up to this point.

      • Brindle says:

        In one word: Lag.

        Nothing will cause rage-quit faster than dying due to lag.

      • Malakili says:

        Hellgate London (i know rite?), had hardcore mode, and a pretty devoted hardcore community. The general problems even the fans of it had were that lag killed them, or zoning into a place with a heavy monster population could kill you before your loading screen finished. Of course, one of the problems people had with HGL in the first place was the splintered community because of the variety of modes. (regardless of the bugs/memory leaks/etc)

      • syncaine says:

        One would think, considering Diablo 2 had similar issues in it’s hardcore mode, HL would have learned something from that. Especially if they expected people to pay for it.

  2. Centuri says:

    Is the idea of risk of loss of gear/items so horrible because players don’t want to loose virtual pixels or is it because they don’t want to have to repeat a soul sucking PVE/PVP grind just to get more gear/items?

  3. King Diamond says:

    The people quitting the game over losing their stuff are people that aren’t has “hardcore” as they thought, or are the people that gave EQ and UO:R footing. With all the choices in games they don’t have to stick around. The problem is none of the games today (even Darkfall) create that real world environment where players make the game, and living in it would be like “real world” such as early UO created. It seems like there aren’t very many people left who enjoy the “create your own experience” type of gaming. Certainly Darkfall doesn’t feel like that when you are in game, but I think a lot of that has to do with the shitty community. I know it’s successful, and I’m happy it is…maybe someone with a decent budget will create a true sandbox game. Rather than an MMOFPS.

    I’ll never understand the notion that people think wanting meaningful PVP means wanting to hurt other players advancement. We don’t want to ruin the experience, there just should be consequences for leaving town with your best stuff, because someone will be wanting it.

  4. Brindle says:

    You should follow up soon with a post on the ‘good design’ aspects of making impactful pvp work.

    For instance, one should allow players to recover from loss in a reasonable time. If a game forced me to PvE for weeks to get decent gear, but you lost gear when ganked, i’d quit. Not because I was ganked, but because I don’t want to run the PvE for weeks again just to get geared again.

    If a game has a large power difference (like levels) betweeen players combined with free-roaming, then i can see the hopelessness of fighting (stats/gear >>>> player skill) and quit.

    If a game has no way for the ‘losing’ clan to recover, because the game world is too tiny, or zerg tactics are the end-all, then I quit.

    Etc… I think a lot of PvP designed games have failed due to poor mechanics (that put the underdog at a non-recoverable disadvantage.) I don’t mind losing some of the time, but when you are forced to lose 100% of the time, it’s time to cancel sub.

    • Adam says:

      @Brindle

      Some of these are good points.

      I think it important that you can reasonably recover from losses but on some level this is handled by the “ante” up process of picking your gear as you leave your city. What can you afford to lose? What can you do/not do if you are too cheap?

      It is important that a game like Darkfall have a reasonable power curve so that maxed characters aren’t gods.

      On the other hand you absolutely have to have some sense of character progression of the rpg part of the game falls apart.

      There have been complaints about Darkfall in the power differential but while a raw newbie is at serious disadvantage its in a manageable band of power difference. The difference is not a level 1 WoW character vs a level 80 WoW character. As a very rough guess I’d say its a lvl 5 WoW character vs a lvl 12-15? The damage and hitpoint difference might be even less actually. Yes there is a difference but it’s not insurmountable.

      As far as the losing clan and zergs. There are two -distinct- answers.

      First some clans are flat out too small or poorly led. They should disband or merge with another clan.

      Second in Darkfall look up ww1 and ww2. Zergs have been repeatedly broken in the first 6 months of this game, and the same has happened in Eve. If you don’t have the fortitude to work through it you don’t belong in the game.

  5. coppertopper says:

    Poker as an analogy for meaningful PvP was the best thing in Tobolds post, and it was in the comments section by a reader. As WoW brought MMOs to the masses, I think Aion and WAR will have done the same for PvP as a concept beyond the random ganking/e-sport bs of WoW.

  6. I think sports are a very good analogy. No one gets shot if their team loses (well, maybe in Russia) but there is a penalty. I think PvP in MMOs should be the same. I don’t think gamers should be put off playing but there needs to be some sort of reward and penalty to actually create the thrill.

    I’ll quantify this statement by saying “so long as it’s fair”. Nothing I hate more than unfair fights.

  7. Thallian says:

    I agree with Bridle, give a post of “do’s” for impact pvp, I’d be very interested, btw this was an excellent post IMO.

  8. boatorious says:

    I think the thing to avoid in games is designing a cool mechanic and then have big disincentives for enjoying it. That’s essentially what hardcore PvP does. Instead of spending all night doing PvP, you spend ten minutes doing PvP, and then the rest of the night rebuilding your character for next night’s PvP.

    One solution would be to allow you to re-equip your character through PvP (and slowly grow stronger as you survive longer). Of course, if you can immediately jump back in PvP as a slightly weaker version of yourself, then the PvP wasn’t that meaningful (impactful) anyway.

  9. Dblade says:

    I think in impact pvp the problem isn’t so much loss at all-consider how much loss you have in any PvE game that uses durability or lets you fail crafting, and full loot isn’t that bad. I think its that as you progress in it, each new piece of gear or each new achievement can raise the stakes till people have to walk away from the table.

    You get to a point where further progression is an actual liability. You can’t wear your kickass sword because it makes you a target, and your guild cant attack a city because they can’t afford the loss if defeated, or can’t hold on to it if they win. But most people wont realize this and they enter a game where the stakes are too high, and cant survive the losses.

    May not even be in a game sense, but a psychological sense. Motivation can be a fragile thing.

  10. Adam says:

    @We Fly Spitfires

    Sports are a terrible analogy imo.

    Even teams? Defined static playfield?

    Sounds like WoW arena, WoW Battlegrounds, Guildwars and Warhammers Scenarios.

    Bad Bad Bad.

    Openworld PVP is much more fun.

  11. Paul says:

    PvP could have impact, but I think it should be impact on your relationship with your own faction. Do well at (world impactful) PvP would mean your advance politically, in some sort of player-involved government structure.

  12. Derrick says:

    It’s pretty simple, really. PvP loss should have an impact, but not necessarily a penalty per sey.
    People often look at this as: You need a harsh penalty or it’s a mindless zerg! It’s not just black and white, there are all sorts of shades of gray.

    If PvP is player skill driven first and foremost, then character skill, then gear LAST, it’s not a big deal. Die? Lost your gear? Well, get a big stick or a rock, and ambush someone who’s got some basic gear on and take theirs.

    The problem comes in where losing in PvP sentences you to PvE grind to rebuild. That’s a critical game design flaw right there. The important part of the loss of gear is that it knocks you out of the battle for a time, not that it hurts you. Worse, if gear has a significant impact on the outcome of PvP you quickly spiral into a “Rich get richer, poor die.” point where good players stay better geared by endlessly trouncing newer/bad players, and have both a high skill AND gear gap so they are virtually untouchable. This creates a very frustrating environment for the new player.

    Here’s how I’d design it:

    First: Gear should matter, but only to a limited extent. The different between crappy gear and good gear should be fairly minor: A rusty old breastplate may not be as effective as a new shiny one, but it gets the job done comparably.

    Second: A guild should be able to churn out quantities of basic equipment (re: gear that’s good enough that your players are not unduly hamstrung for using it.

    Third: Gear of all sorts should have realistic weight AND SIZE requirements. A player should only be able to physically carry what he could reasonably carry. So, no kill 5 noobs and loot all their gear, then kick another noobs ass while carrying it.

    Third.5: Wagons, horses, etc: To carry shit. So, while sieging an opposing guilds’ town/fort/hovel/whatever, reasonable supplies can be carried to resupply those who’ve lost their gear and carry back the spoils. This adds a defensive option, too: take out the supply train, and the offensive can falter, or flee but harass the caravan hauling the loot back to the victor’s town.

    The problem we run in to is that it’s too fast and easy to loot people in most games. One click, and you tear off all their armour, take all their weapons, rifle through their pockets? In combat? Just getting a corpse out of it’s armor is going to take a solid amount of time.

    So, yeah… I’d allow full looting, but I’d make it “realistic”. So, instead of taking everything off everyone you gank, maybe you just grab whatever is valuable and leave the rest because you simply can’t carry all of it, or don’t have time to actually strip them down.

    Permadeath? Yeah… That’s something that really doesn’t work well in a world were people go out and kill each other by the dozens every day. It’s just not practical. Losing your Stuff is one thing – if you’ve having a laggy day, you can leave your best shinies at home – but if you lose your toon? To a bit of lag, or a poorly timed disconnect? Yeah…no. In order for it to work, you need what amounts to throw-away characters; ones that don’t see a great deal of personal investment and don’t offer a lot of power through character (not player) skill… but in this case, why even bother? Players will just “reroll” their toon right away anyways.

    I’ve been playing MMO’s since the early days of MUD’s. I’ve played MMO’s with every type of looting imagineable. I’ve been there, done that. And ultimately, you just can’t make permadeath work if the whole game is like that. It needs to be optional, as there just aren’t enough people into playing that way – particularly long term.

    • Adam says:

      Have you tried Darkfall? It seems to meet most of your requirements.

      Darkfall armor and weapons dont weigh as much as they maybe should. However you should consider weight issues with travel time. If you had to bank every kill it would be quite tedious given slow travel (which is more important than weight imo)…

      Permadeath seems like it would either promote either being extremely strongly attached to your character or extremely lightly attached from “altitis”… be interesting to see the game that people say they want (no thanks on diablo2).

  13. sid67 says:

    I guess what bugs me about this discussion is that for whatever reason, the one thing that both you and Tobold do agree on is that a PvP MMO = Impact PvP.

    Or at least, you both make the assertion that when people say they want meaningful PvP they are saying they want Impact PvP. I would argue that’s not the case.

    I honestly believe there is this big gray area where people WANT PvP, but they don’t necessarily want the Impact.

    So what exactly is meaningful?

    I would argue that most people given the choice of a computer opponent or a real opponent would choose a REAL opponent every time. Why? Winning against a human player is more meaningful.

    The idea that players perfer solo or PvE content is a bit ludicrous actually. Historically, games have always been against human opponents (sports, board games, cards, etc).

    Even in a game like Warcraft, players are competing. They are just competing for levels, wealth, items or achievements instead of wins-losses.

    But back to meaningful.. I watched Football all weekend and each game starts 0-0. At the end of the game, there is a winner and a loser and next week they’ll each play a game starting at 0-0. If this were an MMO, players would be complaining that it was a meaningless victory. But of course, it’s not meaningless. Because at the end of the season, that team’s record is going to determine playoff seeding.

    I think THAT’S the type of meaningful PvP that players want. Something that stays fair, but has some meaning in the larger scheme of things. But even the worst team in the NFL has a chance to win every Sunday.

    • Dblade says:

      PvP isnt like other games though. Its not like cards but more like boxing, and very few people like to box versus a live opponent.

      A lot of people don’t like conflict, and even passive competition through gear or stats tickles them wrong.

      • sid67 says:

        I disagree. People don’t like to box because they don’t like the consequences (pain). Likewise, most people don’t like to play cards for high stakes (again because of the consequences).

        Like I wrote, people want a happy medium. They want to face real opponents but they don’t want huge consequences — just little ones.

        Which brings me back to my point, what exactly is meaningful? And that’s not something that is easily answered because it’s different for everyone. For one person, a $20 bet is meaningful For another, nothing short of a $200 bet is meaningful.

        Just because a player has a lower risk-reward ratio than you, doesn’t mean they aren’t looking for some meaning in their PvP.

      • syncaine says:

        @Sid67: By that definition WoW PvP has consequences, they are just closer to $.01 than the $20 bet in Darkfall. If that’s ‘enough’ consequence for someone, they should be happy. WAR is maybe $.05, with the occasional zone being locked and bonuses removed. I game with perma-death would be closer to that $200 bet.

        My problem is that when the bet is a penny or five, people play stupid because they don’t care. Raise the stakes to $20, and things get a little more serious.

      • Matt says:

        @Syncaine
        What are the consequences of people playing stupid?

      • syncaine says:

        @Matt: It makes the game (be it an MMO, poker, or Monopoly) less fun for those actually trying to play well and those who enjoy a challenge.

        Someone going all-in every hand because its play money makes for a poor poker game, just like the run-in/die/run-back gameplay of themepark PvP makes for (imo of course) a poor experience after the novelty wears off.

  14. Tobold says:

    One thing that annoys me very much about PvP in MMOs is that the attacker is quite often at a huge advantage, because he only attacks when he KNOWS he will win. That could be because he is higher level, or having the much better ship, or because the defender is already wounded from a PvE fight, or simply because the attacker brought half a dozen friends and the defender is alone.

    Apart from making PvP happen in set piece environments like scenarios / battlegrounds, how do you solve that?

    • Adam says:

      Absolutely no desire to solve the best part of Outdoor PVP (The part Blizzard did their best to kill).

      It’s random.

      It’s about overcoming the odds.

      It’s about being clever and not being in dumb situations.

      It’s about kiting the enemies until your friends arrive.

      It’s about having friends. It’s about having less enemies.

      GuildWars and WoW Arena are exactly about “solving” your problem. They are Sport PVP which is what you explicitly want.

    • notageek says:

      “[…] defender is alone. […] how do you solve that?”

      Sigh.

    • Dblade says:

      A lot of times the defender is alone. Unless you go somewhere with your guild in tow, its pretty easy to get ambushed. Imbalances happen, and there is no solution except not to play the game, which a tremendous amount of people don’t do.

      And adam, please. A lot of times its more like you are on the ground or heading back to home point instead of you kiting enemies while the cavalry comes. Maybe you can crack jokes and win a friend, but you will probably die often and a lot unless its a rare fair fight. It’s incredibly frustrating even when you lose nothing.

    • shadowwar says:

      As you can probably surmise from some of the responses, that’s not really seen as an issue to the niche, impact-PvP player. That’s a situation that you chalk up to ill-planning, bad-luck, or as a lesson on how to better play. I play PvP because I love the competition. I love pitting my skills against someone else, but if the other person has nothing to lose they play recklessly, and it becomes less fun.

      The poker analogy is great, and makes me think of my wife who wants to play poker for chips with our friends, but no money. I hate playing them, because they’ll call a third of their stack when three hearts are on the flop, and I just check-raised them, of course I’m going to go all-in after, but they don’t care, because it’s just chips.

    • syncaine says:

      The stuff above basically reflects my thoughts, the ‘problem’ of an unfair fight is not something I want the system to solve, but something I want left up to the players.

      In DarkFall, our clan always has a group going for anyone who is in our city. We do this because even if you are out harvesting or crafting in/around town, it’s much easier/faster to respond to a PK if people can see you on the mini-map because you are grouped, and they can see your HP drop from getting attacked.

      Even if someone is out harvesting, we tell them to bring a 1h+shield, and try to hold up the PKs as long as possible while help responds. Sometimes it works, other times the PKs kill the harvester/crafter too quickly and gets away, but that’s part of DarkFall.

      Less organized clans don’t do this, and so PKs know their cities are far easier to hit than ours. As this reputation spreads, we get less and less random PKs harassing us, and on the flip side we also get MORE organized groups rolling by looking for a fight. Both are bonuses we enjoy.

  15. Wyrm says:

    I believe that the extreme aversion to PvP on the part of some is sometimes due to an over-inflated ego and an unhealthy sense of entitlement. That is the only explanation I can devise for someone to go these lengths to avoid a gaming-death and perhaps the loss of some e-loot.

    It’s not the interference or any other of the lame excuses, no. It’s just people who can’t stand to be on the receiving end of anything. People who are too full of themselves that cannot handle defeat even if it’s just a game.

    So they prefer to play pure PvE games where the risk is minimal and their egoes are safe. That version of the PK’er Strawman that consists on the 12 year old ganking you for hours also is often evoked. That is the worse of it: a big shot real life successful dude getting ganked by a little kid who lol’s his ass off and calls the noob, noob. The bearz all gnash their teeths…

    These guys will never play any game where they can measure themselves against an oponent and actually lose something. It would be too much.

    • Dblade says:

      Uh, I’m bettting darkfall’s loss for the most part is pretty carebear. When you critical fail a synth and lose a 300k ingredient, that’s loss, and that’s what happens in PvE. When you spend about a million gil in meds going 1/10 on one single mission, or someone ninja lots on a relic that took 6 months to get, losing a set of cheap armor is minimal.

      • Wyrm says:

        Correct.
        But that’s different from losing to someone…
        When you fail a synth, there’s no one there saying “lol, noob”…

      • syncaine says:

        Well the devs might be lulz’ing at your expense, but yea, I don’t think failing a random dice roll is comparable to getting outplayed in PvP.

      • Dblade says:

        Being outplayed in pvp is pretty meaningless. It’s one thing if its a fair fight where you get owned with no mitigating factors, if the dude was just better. But most of it is just ambushes, noob zergs, or people who know which little near exploit-tricks can be used to get an edge. Or heaven help us, people reading your guild’s forums. Or “random dice rolls” in terms of to hit or your base stats.

        I think you really are using darkfall too much as a model in specific, most of impact pvp systems are much, much less restricted or balanced, and once you play seriously and realize how much of player skill is actually irrelevant, its not so much of a loss as you think.

      • syncaine says:

        The whole ‘fair fight’ argument is rather lame. No fight is EVER going to be 100% fair. Even in chess someone has to play black. Now unless you have played DF Dblade, I’m not sure how much you can really tell me about the importance of player skill in the combat formula. I know it’s huge because I play it, why do you think it’s irrelevant?

        I mean if it was irrelevant, I could give you the best skilled and geared character in DF and have you fight someone in starter gear, and I’m fairly sure they would wipe the floor with you.

      • Dblade says:

        Well, there’s playing black, and there’s fighting without your queen as a handicap. A pure fair fight may not exist, but the goal is to get it as balanced as possible within that to be able to show skill and make victory on both sides meaningful. If imbalance exists, it should be chosen to show skill instead of remove it; imagine playing chess where the first person to choose pieces could take one of yours off the table.

        I think its irrelevant because usually players act tactically in ways to remove showing skill as a factor in games. That’s why they zerg, ambush, etc. Player skill in controlling is less important than skill in setting up the fight, and that’s not really the skill I think you trumpet in DF. You like the actual fights, but a smart guild would make every effort not to allow you to fight at all.

        As for the max character? You might be surprised. Most MMO’s create an illusion of skill by just being opaque and hiding how stats matter, the actual skill based is lower than your average fps on medium mode.

      • syncaine says:

        A good chess player can beat someone of lesser skill even if they start without a queen. DarkFall is the same. Plus who says everyone’s goal is to get into 100% fair fights? How fun is that after the 10th time?

        Have you played DarkFall? Because I’m not kidding when I saw you can take a max character, face someone with a week old toon, and get worked. If someone is looking for a pure twitch-skill based game, sure, they can play any number of FPS games. But if we are talking player-skill in an MMO, DarkFall is tops in that by a large margin.

  16. Kessiaan says:

    I’ve been playing EvE and WoW for a couple of years now, and from my perspective impact pvp is great but it will never work in a themepark game.

    In a themepark game like WoW you bust your ass to get what you have. Having good gear takes weeks, even months of hard work and you must continue to invest in keeping ahead of everyone else as the devs continually push the bar further up to keep the rat race going. If you lost everything you were carrying when you died and/or semi-permanently lost access to certain areas because you weren’t strong enough to hold onto them, the whole game would fall apart.

    In a good sandbox game, when you die in pvp you say, “Wow, that sucked,” or maybe sometimes, “Wow, that was awesome even though I died!” And then you go buy new gear, or if you’re really smart you just go back to your home base and get the stuff you’ve already pre-staged so you can get back in action faster. If you get kicked out of your home base, you go somewhere else and set up there.

    The paradigms these are based on are so totally different I can’t see how they can be reconciled. People who haven’t really gotten into both kinds of games tend to not be able to understand the other viewpoint.

    I do think games with ‘impact PvP’ and/or strong sandbox elements will always be a smaller market segment than a themepark game like WoW. Most people play games to relax, not to compete, and most people need to be explicitly told what to do.

  17. willee says:

    Agree with Syncaine that the “unfair” fight needs to be left alone. That’s all part of the risk/reward system. You can take your chances, go out solo, and anything you find/kill/etc. you get all the rewards for. Find a chest…it’s all yours. The risk? If you get found out by a group of enemies you’re probably finished.

    That’s a key risk/reward balancing component in PvP vs. the players that needs to be left alone imo. (And i play solo 95% of the time)

  18. Bonedead says:

    You guys can play DF and risk losing your unimportant sets of armor, I’m gonna play WoW, where every year they nullify the majority of the things you’ve worked on that year. I’m uber hardcore.

  19. […] one hand, this is a really great post about PvP from the perspective of someone with that K orientation who wants […]

  20. Crito says:

    What’s the objective and where’s the skill?

    It’s a game so it will have both a goal and an optimal achievment of that goal. I’ve noticed from reading these comments that the skill in DF is dependent on forseeing overwhelming threats and having friends to help you. It looks like chess in a way. The skill lies in not leaving your rook all alone. It’s strange though to play as only a single chess piece on a full board. You have to have a team to win, but you don’t need a team to play. (This will obviously discourge new players because they will feel all alone, and they are.) You might also be sacrificed so that your team will win (this could be cool). It’s also like soccer because you could move poorly and cause your team to loose. However, unlike chess not every piece is matched(a pawn can kill a queen in chess not an mmo) because of levels and items. These don’t seem to be based on skill because a new player could be given a high level item or character (say from a friend). Skill, however, can’t be given. Even if you had these items and levels you could still be ganked if you arn’t carefull. These secondary goals (high level and items) seem to have crept over from another game in which players trade time for rewards.

    It seems strange that Items carry so much weight. It’s always stuff that people are after, and stuff that makes one player better than the other. Is “impact PvP” just about getting more virtual stuff? If so, competition(pvp) isn’t the goal but things. Pure competition shouldn’t need any rewards other than victory and aknowledgment of there skill. Unless of course the competition is not who is better at killing but who can get the most money (and that’s what it usually ends up being in real life). I think that might be it. It looks like a race for the most cash (and towns etc).

    I guess virtual stuff doesn’t attract me, so the time spent getting it is not worth it. Competition and challanges attract me because they pit my skill against the enemy. If I loose I have no-one to blame but myself but if I win I can claim the glory. The incentive to play is to be able to show my skill (or my teams), and do something that is fun. (people who don’t like basketball or math don’t do these things, if the act of fighting is mindless and boring, why do it except for the worthless money).

    I think sandbox is great and the way to go, but it still seems to be a struggle between a grind game and a game of actual competition. The competition seems to be a community added side-game to the real objective, grinding levels and having virtual stuff.

  21. Sara Pickell says:

    There are two points to what I think of as “impact” pvp. One is connection, the other is resignation/retreat. Connection means that your current battle effects the next battle. It’s the same reason wargames like Battletech have had campaign rules for so long. Sure it’s fun the first couple times you’ve set your prized battlemaster against a marauder, but it gets kind of old, kind of fast. Whereas in a campaign where you can’t use whatever you like, and have to go through a lot of work to buy stuff, all of the sudden you have a whole bunch of different kinds of battles. Sure not all of those battles are fair, but that’s part of the fun, overcoming the unfair battles and throwing a wrench in your enemies plans.

    The other half is that it gives meaning to actions like resigning, retreating, and desperate last stands. In WAR for instance, you don’t gain anything by retreating from a battle, unless it’s retreating back behind NPC guards, nor do you mitigate any losses. Desperate last stands are not really part of a meaningful choice structure, you aren’t balancing risk versus reward because the choices are pretty simple: stay and fight the unstoppable horde because fighting is your cup of tea, or leave because you can’t be arsed. But when you add logistics, everything changes. That “desperate last stand” may mean the difference between winning and loosing in the long run, and failing to retreat could lead to a “win the battle lose the war” scenario.

    To me, it’s not war without logistics. Brawling can be hella fun, and the same with sports, but sometimes I just want to fight a war.

  22. kmc says:

    I’ll start out by saying I’m not a PvP type (apparently I have an enormous ego–lol). I take competition very seriously; it’s just my personality, and I play games to relax. It’s just the way I am that I engage in competitive real-world things but the feeling of getting better at something, for me, doesn’t translate well into the virtual world, and only the stress remains. So I am not negative in any way on others’ enjoyment of PvP as long as I don’t have to be involved. That said, I have been known to enjoy WoW arena-type PvP, and the enjoyment I get out of that is being able to focus purely on my skill and go quickly from fight to fight, changing my tactics each time to try to get better. By contrast, I get nothing in the slightest out of world-PvP. I only mention that as a context for my comment, which I’m sure plenty of people will (and should) feel free to ignore.
    What about something where the rewards are more iconic than practical? I know some people can’t get motivated without stat bonuses, but things like WoW’s old honor ranking system, where you got a title with a higher and higher rank but you had to continue PvP-ing regularly to maintain it are a great psychological motivation. But instead of just playing skirmish after skirmish, like FPS-es with “RPG elements”, you’d still create a permanent world with the crafting and grouping and all the other things that players love. Maybe it’d work, maybe not; I don’t know.

  23. Fionn says:

    That was a nice read, enjoyed the comparison of impact pvp to playing poker with cash. It really describes it perfectly.

    In games like Age of Conan and WAR you die and you run back and you die and you run back and then you fall asleep with the boredom. The developers implement things like pvp xp and rewards for ranks and ladders for pvpers so they can see who the best one is. They make new scenarios and battlegrounds and add more pvp loot and potions and the list goes on, and still you die of boredom from grinding out rank points and pvp xp and it’s always the same boring thing over and over again. Sure its fun sometimes and you will have a laugh but it gets stale very quickly.

    For me Darkfall completely changed my outlook on pvp in mmos. I never realised how simple it was to make an incentive for people to want to pvp and how to make it thrilling every single time it happens. That magic secret was of course “Full loot PvP”. When you don’t want to die, and I mean really don’t want to die then winning the fight becomes so much sweeter. What other game do you spend 15 minutes running through hills and trees dodging arrows and missiles and shouting for your friends to help you on voicecomms because you are being attacked and you have a fat bag of loot from killing mobs for the last hour. Your mount dies just as you reach the top of the hill where your friends are hiding so you backoff with your shield up as they charge straight into a trap. Realising they are now outnumbered they turn and run for their lives. You and your clan mates chase after them and manage to take down two mounts and kill the riders while the others scatter in all directions hoping they can stay alive and leave their fallen friends for dead. This type of pvp never happened in any other game I played that didn’t have full loot pvp and this is the stuff that gets the adreneline pumping every single time you PvP. If that was a typical theme park pvp mmo then that fight would have ended in 10 seconds with me standing there letting the guys who jumped me take me down because it’s easier to just die rather than attempt an impossible fight. I mean who cares right, I’ll just spawn again anyway and go somewhere else.

    Now I get that and I love it and I never want any other form of pvp in an mmo again or it just won’t be as good. But it is definately a niche market as I have seen a lot of players leave because they didn’t get it. They saw all their shiny loots dissappear and they couldn’t handle it. They blamed the game, other players, hacks and whatever else they could and they left. I have even seen griefers spit their dummy out of the pram because they got killed and called their killers all the names under the sun. But you are sometimes very surprised at the people who do get it and do end up really enjoying it. Sometimes the people who think they are big time pvpers are the ones who ragequit and the so called “carebears” are the one who enjoy the consequences of dying and the thrills of winning.

  24. Inktomi says:

    In EVE, 30% of the population has no desire to pvp…at all. So every 3 out of 10 players have no interest in being ganked, podded or gatecamped. However, the majority rules and lowsec/nullsec creates an environment of threat.

    That threat FORCES players to think rationally and make interesting choices. Isn’t that the whole goal of games to begin with? To make us think of how we are going to handle certain situations.

    In wow , your worst case, I mean WORST case scenario is 1) being corpsecamped until you log off 2) getting laughed off a pvp battlefield where your only risk is not earning enough points to advance in rank 3) a mild inconvenient ganking in the wild.

    In EVE, the stakes are considerably higher. Irreplaceable skillpoints without an updated clone. Millions of isk lost on a ship and usually high end equipment that is going to get salvaged after you get podded. And upon podding you lose millions, in some cases billions in implants.

    On one hand you can compare pvp in wow to an online shooter like Team fortress 2. On the other hand you have something called meaningful pvp; Where you lose and it really “means” something to you.

    I feel that clique or niche really depends on personal playstyle. Are you the minority and are forced to play by the majority rules, or the majority and have to compete on a much larger playing field against your peers?

    Again, your looking at having to make interesting choices either way. In wow, your biggest choice is, “to zerg or not to zerg>”

    • Gareth says:

      “That threat FORCES players to think rationally and make interesting choices. Isn’t that the whole goal of games to begin with? To make us think of how we are going to handle certain situations.”

      I would disagree with this definition of a game, real life already forces me to make rational choices, if all a game did was force me to do the same I’d not bother with them.

      Games have been around a long time before computers, what I think a pure game provides is a challenge, something you put skill into to overcome and a result you work towards to prove you have won often with chance involved to make you react with your strategies.

      I actually don’t see Eve the same way as you do “In EVE, the stakes are considerably higher.”, you could summarise the stakes as risking a long grind to go back to doing the same thing you could do before.

      Sure that means something to the player, but the player is the one ultimately who decides what everything in the game means anyway.

      For a game that aims to model a world that’s fine, but I wouldn’t say that has anything to do with skill or challenge as they are unrelated. Seriously cheesed off with the amount of people pumping their epeen because they’re gambling hours on the outcome of something, if you could lose $1 each time you died in WoW/WAR/EQ2 etc it wouldn’t really add anything to the game? So why wasting time?

      For me it doesn’t matter how good the graphics get, or how realistic and interactive the game world is, eventually it always just comes down to the player giving it the meaning they decide, whether its jumping into battlefield after battlefield in WAR or roleplaying/adventuring in EQ2.

      If some people need to gamble on something to give it meaning then that’s their loss for a lack of imagination.

      • syncaine says:

        Actually if every death in WAR cost you $1, you would see people play very differently than they do today. People would be more tactical, groups would care more about composition and player quality, and all endless death/respawn/death crap would be gone. The overall action would be ‘slower’, but each battle would actually mean something. Put a $100 prize on a city capture/loss, and now defending a Fortress seems a whole lot more important.

  25. A lot of peoples’ comments refer to the ability to get back into combat without a huge grind. This element combined with the ability to control your exposure to loss are what make meaningful PVP viable. EvE does these both really well. It lets you pick a ship you feel you can lose and have a dozen of the same ship fitted and ready to go after you lose the first one. I guess a 3rd element EvE adds in is that it provides smaller, lower value, lower risk ships and equipment to really have a viable and even necessary role in fleets. You’re level 3 Mage is probable useless in pvp but the t1 frigate I got my first day in EvE still has a use for me even 4 years in.

    • Crito says:

      Good point, but as you say ships arn’t the same as armor. There are no disadvantages to having a higher level, but there are disadvantages to having a larger ship: you are more of a target and you have to deal with upkeep. Armor doesn’t really fit the bill. Where is the trade-off? In all good games, every choice both limits you and opens up opportunities. Grinding out higher levels doesn’t limit you but only divides the playerbase. Levels seem to be a reward from the devs for playing alot. I’ld rather be rewarded for playing well.

      • syncaine says:

        They are not the same, no, as better armor does not have some of the weaknesses bigger ships have in EVE (other than heavy armor reducing the effectiveness of spells, which in the current magic-dominated balance, is a big deal), but better armor IS exponentially more expensive while only being marginally more effective. Crafting infernal or dragon armor costs a fortune, and while both are better than plate, they are not frig vs battleship better. And since items wear down and break, and mobs drop less effective versions of all armor/weaps (and no mobs drop infernal/dragon that I know of), it has so far been ok in terms of balance. Like EVE and Titans, I’m having a tough time imagining a day when all players are running around in full sets of dragon armor.

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