Tales from the MMO bandwagon

MMOG Nation today has a post with some pre and post WAR launch reactions, which as expected go from unrealistic hype to ‘worst game eva’ faster than Usain Bolt. It’s entertaining to watch, but nothing new for an MMO launch. People overhyped EQ1, played for a month, and bitch that it too sucked compared to UO. The only difference today is the bandwagon holds far more people thanks to WoW.

PvP in an MMO is an idea that a lot of people like the sound of. PvP is also something a lot of MMO fans don’t actually like to play when you get down to it. PvP is harder than PvE, it’s less ‘fair’, and when you lose repeatedly it’s a direct reflection on you, rather than being able to lay blame on some code and a script. If you are on the short end of the stick in PvP consistently, at some point it’s more a reflection on you than it is anything the game itself is doing, and that’s a tough pill to swallow for a lot of people. They don’t want to log in and be reminded that someone out there is just better then they are. We all want to be the one true hero, right? That’s why PvE is so easy; the NPCs never pack up and leave because your class is overpowered, they fight you repeatedly even if you zerg them, and they are even nice enough to wait around for you in the same exact spot each time. It’s easy to be the hero when the villain lets you win.

To me what separates PvP fans is we understand the limits of PvE, the downfalls of PvP, and in the end the benefits of PvP outweigh the convenience of PvE. Which is not to say PvE sucks and you suck if you like it, that’s not the point. The point is for a certain percentage of the MMO fan base, we would rather trade in the safety of PvE for the ever-changing aspects of PvP, good and bad. While we are annoyed with zergs, item imbalance, ganking, and all the other negative aspects of PvP, they don’t annoy us ENOUGH to outweigh the rush from a quality PvP encounter. Just like pure PvE annoys us with its predictability, safety, and ultimately carbon-copy nature. Killing Illidan might make you feel like a hero for a moment, but you are just following the motions of thousands of players before you, and nothing you did makes you a unique snowflake. You simply repeated the scripted steps necessary for the loot piñata to pop. And again, for a lot of people, popping that piñata is exactly what they want out of an MMO, they want to log on and know the piñata is back up, waiting for its beating. The idea that the piñata might fight back, or bring its candy-filled friends to gank you are not something that is ultimately appealing.

So with all that said, is WAR doomed to follow in the revered footsteps of PvP MMO games like ShadowBane and Fury, bleeding angry subscribers until it folds? Of course not, and if anything, WAR is on a good pace to accomplish exactly what Mythic set out to do, become the #2 subscription based MMO in North America and the EU. Only the truly delusional are surprise that the bandwagon is emptying and people are scurrying back to WoW and its 10 new levels of neon. Everyone knew this would happen, just like we all know in 3-4 months, when the neon starts to dim, the hype will again begin to swell for the next MMO baby jesus to come save us all. And while the bandwagon jumpers will forever chase after the hype of the ‘next’ MMO, fans of each game remain and continue to enjoy themselves, be it LoTRO, EVE, EQ2, WoW, or WAR. And as long as each company caters to that fan base, everything will work itself out just fine. We will continue to get the content we enjoy, while being able to watch and enjoy the show that is the MMO dreamer bandwagon.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in EQ2, Lord of the Rings Online, MMO design, PvP, Rant, Ultima Online, Warhammer Online, World of Warcraft. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Tales from the MMO bandwagon

  1. Snafzg says:

    Trouble is mate, WAR is NOT a PvP game, it is an RvR game and that means that it must manage the delicate balance of PvE and PvP; bringing us quality experiences in both environments.

    You need only to look at the ultimate goal of city sieges to know that this game does not revolve solely around PvP. What are the city dungeons? PvE. What are the city PQs? PvE. What is the king battle? PvE.

    I’ve said this ever since I started blogging about WAR: I don’t want to focus solely on PvP. Why? Let’s use your Illidan example. What makes 1000 keep raids any different from a repetitive dungeon grind a la WoW? Are you telling me that you will be continually wowed and surprised in a constant PvP environment? Sure, PvP offers a more dynamic experience than PvE, however, the more you focus on it, the more the line blurs between dynamic and repetitive.

    And for the record, I am a very thick-skinned PvP player. I’ll scream to the high heavens if I die due to lag or a bug, but if I did in a fair fight or one that’s even unbalanced against me, well, you just roll with it. Such is life in PvP.

  2. Ravious says:

    Good stuff. I personally am maybe… a bloodthirsty hybrid player. PvP is fantastic. Guild Wars is my favorite game because I can do both. WAR is fairly close, but their PvE gets a bit boring at times. However, I do not touch PvP in LOTRO because I don’t feel the game is made for it (as much as Turbine tries).

    A few months ago I started laughing at a post somewhere about “carebears,” and on the rare occasion my wife actually wanted an explanation of why “carebears” were funny (and the source of the term). It was actually a tough sell, but ultimately I think PvP player’s mind work differently. Fun for them is not execution so much as adaption.

  3. Wilhelm2451 says:

    So you’re telling people like Heartless and Keen that they need to “learn to play?” That’s their real problem? Interesting angle.

  4. syncaine says:

    Yea, the 1000th Keep siege will be different than the first. For one, both sides will have long since adopted new tactics, counter-tactics, and so on. Both sides will also be playing with different balance changes for classes, that do more than just outright buff you vs the encounter (unlike PvE). Relic raids in DAoC did this, as do games like DOTA or CS. Things constantly evolve, and the players need to keep up. That’s why repeated PvP content is fine, while repeating PvE content gets stale.

    As for the king encounter being PvE, what opens up the PvE encounter? RvR. Mythic just added a loot pinata at the very end of the RvR campaign, big deal. You can’t get to the king without RvR, and ultimately RvR will decide the winner.

  5. Snafzg says:

    I came from a pretty strong 8-man guild in DAOC and I can say with absolute certainty that RvR got stale for me real quick. Change would occur, as you say, with things like expansions that introduce new careers, gear, and skills, however, it doesn’t take long to min/max it all to death and find that magic formula that makes things stale again.

    I don’t see how that’s any different from PvE though… You must employ different tactics for every raid encounter in WoW – yet once they are mastered, it gets stale. Each expansion will introduce new classes, skills, gear, and bosses to fight, but again, once you figure it all out, it becomes stale.

    I think PvE and PvP are much more alike than you admit because you are extremely biased against PvE and WoW in general.

  6. syncaine says:

    How do you get L2P out of the above…?

  7. Snafzg says:

    Also, the 1000th keep may be a different experience than the first, but what about keep 1-10? 30-50? 900-1000?

    Take a moment to consider your last 10 keep takes in WAR and tell me how vastly different each one was from the next. For me it is:

    1) Meet resistance outside
    2) Bang away at the gate until it falls while taking some punishment from the walls
    3) Intercept new people trying to enter
    4) Bang away at the inner door until it falls while taking some punishment from the walls
    5) Intercept new people trying to enter
    6) Fight on the stairs
    7) One of two things happens here: You either push through and zerg the keep lord and all his guards or you get pushed back by the defenders, die, and start all over from step 1 once the gate repops
    8) Claim victory, keep banging away until either you win or people get bored and wander off, or move to another keep/BO

    That’s pretty much the keep taking cycle man… It happens that way almost every single time from T2-T4.

  8. Wilhelm2451 says:

    Paragraph 2 pretty much comes down to “dissatisfaction = can’t play well.”

  9. syncaine says:

    Tough to take a relic with 8 people Snafzg. And while you might have gotten bored with RvR, the retention rate of games like DAoC, EVE, and the AC-DT server will show that the PvP base hangs around far long than the average PvE player, especially with the same content to play in. Does it eventually get stale, sure, but it takes a hell of a lot longer for it to go stale than any PvE encounter, and we know that players chew content far faster than it can be produced.

    There is no ‘magic formula’ in PvP like there is in a raid. Any formula you put down, someone will easily find a counter to. Check the DoTA leagues and ask for a perfect 5 man setup, and everyone will point out that it depends on who you are facing. What’s the perfect scenario group setup in WAR? I can give you the perfect setup for Rag in MC, or the classes needed for Illidan. PvP is dynamic before it even starts, let alone when the fight begins and play skill factors in.

  10. syncaine says:

    Just from memory, the last few siege.

    Rush Order from behind while they are at the 2nd door, wipe them with help from defenders inside. Defend courtyard with the help of siege weapons until the first door pops, Order quits.

    Zerg wipe Order outside the keep, take down both doors before they make it back in. Wipe Order wb outside keep again, kill lord.

    Capture undefended keep with 10 guild mates, defend outer wall against Order wb, eventually getting overrun clogging the door. Collect a ton of renown from oil/aoe door grind before losing keep.

    Mix in variations of a ‘typical’ siege, a few skirmishes at objectives, some scenarios, and I’m all set. This from a game less than 2 months out. Compare it to DAoC on it’s second month, and I think it goes without saying that things will only continue to improve on the already solid base Mythic has established. It’s not for everyone, but that was never Mythic’s target to begin with.

    And Wilhelm, being dissatisfied with losing enough to quit is the issue, not whether it happens or not. PvE MMO players expect to win more than they lose, based on the nature of PvE. Without the cookie at the end, people don’t show up. PvP players accept when it’s not your day/week/month, but keep coming back for the fight, win or lose. Just a difference in expectations.

  11. Thallian says:

    Wow, this is complicated ;)

  12. Bonedead says:

    I’ve been waiting for you to post something like this again for a long time my friend. We established that I am a bit more of a PvP extremist than simply a PvP fan, which I may as well wear as a badge than an albatross.

    In that post people were again claiming WAR is not a PvP game. I mean shit, look at all the posts around the nets, what is everyone complaining about? “Too many people in Scenarios!!!111” Odd. I guess I wasn’t the only person with the idea of WAR being a PvP game in my head.

    When you award EXP for PvP it is destined to be a PvP game. Look at DAoC, they added classic servers and now the majority of players are there (with less PvE). On the classic servers, most of the players are in the BGs. In WoW, there has got to be a large percentage of subscribers who don’t make it to max level and play as a twink in BGs. I assume that because that is my story, which I used to think was unique but am realizing more each day that many people share that story.

    They’re the FPS players, the competitive players, the annoyingly full of themselves players. Sorry, we don’t get bored of repetitive PvP encounters, because they do change every time. Whether you choose to believe that or not is up to you, but it is true. If you’ve been there you know, being hooked like a fat kid with a cake. He is going to try his damndest to eat that whole thing, even if his parents tell him to go to bed, he will gnaw away at that cake for the accomplishment of saying he ate the whole thing, and he will not give up.

    Man do I go off on tangents or what. What are we talking about again?

    I must admit that WAR is not the perfect PvP game, and yes, it has PvE too. For instance, I cannot decide on a class to play, still, after one month. I realized last night that it is because I expected more out of WAR. I wanted to play the class that would enable me to be recognized as a scary ass on the battlefield. One that I could play better than most that would allow me to be at the front lines deciding who lives or dies while hardly fearing for my life.

    Why would I expect something so amazingly overpowered? I blame an addictive personality. On my Witch Elf I could get the feeling described above, usually when I got a few heals, because I could just tear through people like mobs. For some reason I love when PvP feels like PvE, I realize that is my goal when I PvP. So I keep playing different classes hoping that one can constantly perform well in Scenarios regardless of my teammates.

    Now I am realizing that this PvP was designed more around the team effort idea (lol, laaaaame :p). So I am forced to play a Rogue preying on the weak(only being stealthed for 30 friggin seconds).

    And now the part I’ve been waiting for.

    “Which is not to say PvE sucks and you suck if you like it, that’s not the point.”
    Not the point, but oh so true! Keekles

  13. H00LiGAN says:

    This is why I join a Syncaine RvR/PvP group whenever I can. The man is a bloodthirsty beast!
    Anyways, WAR to me is stuck in the middle of an identity crisis. the RVR can be incredible, but the PvR is so boring, I’d rather skip it and do scenarios.
    I imagine that over time, WAR will figure itself out.
    I play WAR for the PvP. I consider it a challenge when I get pwned. Getting better is what life is all about.
    Did I make a point? Dammit, no more liquid lunch breaks…

  14. Sifo says:

    I’m loving me some WAR. I don’t understand the folks that hate on its PvP. It’s not perfect but it is head and shoulders above anything else out there (PvP-wise that is).

    I feel WAR is a game that really requires a solid guild to enjoy. If you go the solo route you will likely hate WAR. PuGs are a miserable experience for the most part… even when you win – the only strategy that works in PuGs is follow the zerg and hope you don’t come against a premade. A balanced group with some quality players and voice commo is tough to beat. There is nothing more satisfying than rolling a larger force with skill and organization.

    Anywho, if you are playing with a small guild I’d strongly suggest looking into a bigger one or one that is a little more “hardcore”. There’s nothing more fun in WAR than winning… I think most people that dislike it tend to be the on the losing end.

  15. Eric says:

    All I want to do is PVP, but when WoW unbalanced Arena with Gear and personal ratings that reset any time you changed teams it killed it for me. Now Im leveling slowly in WAR with the AIM to participate in T4 and play competitively in RVR for years to come.

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