What is Realm Pride?

In the land of MMO PvP setups, we know for sure that one style, freeform PvP, works. We also know that another style, pre-set PvP, has worked, but has also has a history of failure. The one major example of pre-set PvP success is Dark Age of Camelot, and many point towards ‘realm pride’ as a major reason for its success.

Before I get into the idea of realm pride, let’s first define the two styles a bit just to set some ground work. Freeform PvP is basically what Ultima Online, Asheron’s Call-DarkTide, ShadowBane, EVE, and DarkFall had/have going. It allows basically anyone to team with or against anyone regardless of any pre-set conditions (race/class/faction/etc), meaning you have countless ‘sides’ of various sizes. Population control is largely left in the hands of the players, and managing a huge empire of players is viewed as a highly prized ‘skill’ itself. This style is certainly not problem-free, but the system overall ‘works’ if everything else lines up. Shadowbane for instance did not fail because of its PvP setup, and games like EVE and DarkFall are better games thanks to the fact that sides are not pre-set.

A pre-set system is one where the sides are ‘pre-set’ by the developers, be it two sided (World of Warcraft, Warhammer Online, Aion) or three sides like in Dark Age of Camelot. (Nothing comes to mind above three). The idea is to start everyone on a team, avoiding the troubling of joining a clan/alliance before having friends to fight with. The very well known problem is always population balance, as one side being more popular than another creates serious and difficult-to-fix issues. This problem is of course magnified if you only have two sides, as you only have one option for an opponent and you fight the same population imbalance at all times. You can’t ‘team up’ on the popular side, or have a side battle between two smaller sides. Once the overpopulated side wins a few encounters, the under populated side begins to lose moral and down the spiral you go.

So what lead to DAoC players feeling a sense of realm pride, or more importantly today, what ingredients might you need to replicate that and pull off a successful pre-set PvP MMO?

DAoC had the success it had because first and foremost, it was a very good game. Interesting classes, good (not perfect) combat mechanics, and a solid engine to run it all, DAoC had the basics and not-so-basics of an all-around good MMO game. Remove even a bit of that and all that realm pride stuff flies out the window fast.

Beyond just being a good game though, DAoC featured a war with three pre-set sides unlike the failed PvP in MMOs such as WoW, WAR, and Aion (soon on that one anyway, and no, an easily exploited NPC side does not count). At least with three sides, you bring in some diversity to any engagement, and population imbalances can in part be ‘corrected’ by the players when two sides team up on one, directly or indirectly. Moral is also not crushed after a defeat since the next battle might be a different combination of friends/enemies. Even the ‘little guy’ has a chance to win battles if they time their entry correctly, or strike when the two other sides are already pre-occupied. Point being, everyone has options, and as long as you have options, you have a chance.

So when exactly does realm pride start to factor into all of this, and how important was it in regards to DAoC’s success? IMO realm pride was the natural progression of players who were playing a game that ‘worked’, rather than some magic formula or feature that Mythic created and then failed to replicate with WAR. The idea of realm pride naturally builds when you are invested in anything that is going well, is enjoyable, or is worth caring about. Players in successful EVE alliances have ‘realm pride’ for their alliance, just like DF players have ‘realm pride’ regarding their clan. The reason realm pride never took off in WoW or WAR is not because some ‘special sauce’ was missing from those games, but just the general fact that neither game had great PvP to begin with, and so those players never felt heavily invested.

With WAR in particular, Mythic missed the boat on replicating DAoC realm pride because they did not deliver a game that was good enough to get heavily invested in. The RvR in WAR was not good enough to log in and care how your side was doing, or how it did the day before. You can point to the fact that Relics in DAoC meant a lot more than capital city stars in WAR to those playing, or that keeps in DAoC seemed to attract more fevered offense/defense than in WAR, but realm pride (or lack of it) is not the direct answer to ‘why’ that is/was.

It’s tough to say whether a third side in WAR would have outright saved the game and allowed it to keep more of its initial player base, or to at least stop it’s bleeding once the tourists moved on, but would anyone argue that a third side would be anything BUT an improvement? The question that is sadly likely never to be answered is just how far away was WAR from being a great game? In many ways it was far superior to DAoC, yet when it came down to what mattered most, a prolonged interest in RvR, it failed. How many people would still be playing if instead of going down to two sides, Mythic had gone UP to four, or even six sides? Would the topic of why WAR players never felt a sense of realm pride even be an issue then, or would many of us instead be talking about the underhanded move the Dark Elves just pulled off when the Dwarves and High Elves were fighting over a capital city?

In short, creating ‘realm pride’ is not a magic fix or feature that can save a pre-set PvP MMO. It is a reflection that what you have created ‘works’ for those playing, that they care enough about what you are offering to go above and beyond their normal routines and to get more involved. When you’re players start to genuinely care about what happens, you know you have them hooked for months to come.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in Aion, Asheron's Call, Combat Systems, Dark Age of Camelot, Darkfall Online, EVE Online, MMO design, PvP, RvR, Ultima Online, Warhammer Online, World of Warcraft. Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to What is Realm Pride?

  1. sid67 says:

    IMO, the worst griefers in the history of MMO gaming are always the ones that are on your side. If a guy ganks you and steals your crap, that’s part of the game. If a guy stands on a mailbox/NPC in such a way that you can’t click on it — he’s just being a dick.

    To me, that’s the difference between having preset sides or not. I don’t have forced loyalty to the dick when there are no pre-set sides. The relationships I form have to be more meaningful and are based on need.

    Loyalty or pride in those situations is going to be more powerful than in any preset game.

    That said, the preset has the advantage of not making me ‘work’ to even have a side. Also — the pool of players that I can theoretically team with is much bigger than I could reasonably form on my own.

    In the end, it’s a tradeoff.

    You can have intense loyalty and the freedom to make your own alliances. But you’ll have to WORK to maintain those relationships and sometimes enough ‘friends’ won’t be around for you to do stuff.

    OR, you can jump right in on a side but have very loose, programmatic relationships with your fellow teammates.

  2. Graktar says:

    The word is “morale”, but other than nitpicking I agree with you. DAoC had realm pride because the relatively balanced nature of the 3 way war allowed players a chance to become invested in the game where the imbalanced war of WAR did not.

    DAoC was also clearly a game “world”, and each side had clearly defined territory. In WAR territory was a mashup and the nature of the zone design prevented it feeling like a world.

  3. Tholal says:

    re: WAR – A third faction would not have saved WAR. You still would be doing the same RvR grind in the same style keeps (and having one keep with a square-type staircase and another with a circular staircase does not make them different), with the same limited PvP areas (WAR is everywhere? Ha!), and the same crappy ‘city-siege’ (which is nothing more than a glorified scenario battle).

    Sure you may have added some re-playability factor, but that is already one of WAR’s stronger points with it’s variety of classes and entertaining low-level PvP.

    But I completely agree with the main point of this post, that ‘Realm Pride’ was a side-effect of a fun PvP game rather than a cause.

  4. sid67 says:

    One thing I always thought would be neat in a PvP MMO, are several preset factions whose reaction to each other changes based on the in-game control of specific areas. For example, imagine an MMO with 7 core factions. Each faction can be at war or at peace with any other factions depending on whether or not they occupy or don’t occupy other people’s territories. If one large faction had occupying territories in the six other factions, they would be at war with everyone. Or alternately, one faction could try to maintain control of just their territory and stay neutral to the other forces. You couldn’t attack people on your faction. At “war” factions could always be attacked. Neutral factions could only be attacked under certain conditions.

  5. Thallian says:

    I think you are dead on about realm pride being intrinsic to how good the game experience was and emotional investment here. I would like to see an MMO with 4 sides someday. (Or just another one with three real ones)

  6. Adam says:

    When I started WoW and later Warhammer it was very easy to have “realm pride”.

    In WoW it was simply griefing Horde players away from “my/our” spot on the map.

    Simple fights over the towns in Ashenvale had no real meaning but were fun and we fought for hours over some sense of pride.

    Later on who “owned” Blackrock Mountain or Silithus became the thing. These places were -our- property.

    I guess I would point to the instanced battlegrounds as giving my realm pride the slow death in WoW. Frequent meaningless fights frequently with players I would never(ish) see again over nothing.

    The battlegrounds themselves were fun but slowly it drained the outdoor fight of its fun and meaning. Blizzard only half-heartedly tried to incentivize the outdoor fight in places like Halaa etc. So there was no endgame pvp in WoW to fight in.

    I think in Warhammer it was also the case that low level realm pride was very strong for me. As I climbed RR levels post 60 the lack of meaningfulness to the city sieges just drained it all away.

    I actually enjoyed many of the keep fights and patrolling t4 and t3. But then I was in probably the best endgame guild in Warhammer at the time and we had purpose.

    After that long ramble, I agree with your basic point but I think there is some “special sauce” I guess.

    For long term and meaningful realm pride there has to be an endgame reward structure beyond “honor points”. I think that really means that there has to be some kind of property or it doesn’t work.

    Keeps flipped too easily and too frequently for that to occur in Warhammer and of course property is a non-concept in WoW. As an aside I think EQ pvp’ed aggressively over mob spawns for their guild.

    Darkfall gets it right with meaningful property. My clan -owns- a section of the map and we defend it. The mob spawns and villages nearby are ours. We aggressively show others that they don’t own their section of the map :D

  7. Chris says:

    I think your proposition that realm pride is an “emergent” property of strong underlying gameplay is much more plausible than the number of factions. WARs game and server code, and class balance, at launch were insufficient and so many people left, causing the massive server contractions, dropping the populations so that the RvR became that much less fun. Having 3 factions spamming overpowered AoE and running bomb groups wouldn’t have helped in my opinion. Now that those issues have been mostly addressed, and servers consolidated to have the necessary populations for fun RvR, WAR is a lot more fun.

    IMHO, one WAR’s biggest design flaw was that they (correctly) recognized that in order to be financially successful, they needed to target and retain a much wider playerbase than DAoC, which was more comfortable with PvE than PvP. This lead to the maps being designed with small RvR lakes (with virtually no PvE content in them) and large PvE questing areas, as well as the PvE centric endgame instances which provided all the high-end gear. But they completely missed the boat on making the PVE content compelling enough to keep and retain ex-WoW, LOTRO, EQ players etc., and so they failed to retain those players. It’s not just that they had a lot of “tourists”, its that they designed the game world and mechanics around that population not leaving.

    The other main problem for me is that the campaign structure severely limits the ability of players (particularly casual ones) at the end-game to progress their characters via abilities or equipment. My understanding in DAoC was that the best equipment came from quests, crafting, and “bounty points” obtained in combat, and that all of this could feasibly done at your own pace. In WAR, you have to either of the end-game PVE dungeons (which have no meaningful token system), or go into the Warlord/King encounters which you only get in a city siege (and as a single player cant trigger). This raid-centric approach is ok for a PVE game where other people can’t directly prevent you from accessing the content, but fails to work in WAR.

  8. Chris says:

    For everyone, like me, that played DAoC for 3+ years, we knew WAR was in trouble 2 years before launch because they planned 2 factions. But you have to look at risk/reward too. “Realm pride” in DAoC resulted from personal gain (as does everything – altruism is a myth). I didn’t want to die, wanted realm points so I could get stronger, liked seeing my guild flag over a keep, liked winning, liked the advantage relics gave me, and didn’t like the other 2realms having the relic bonuses. In WAR aside from aversion to dying and liking winning didn’t give any other incentive for me to want to defend my realm. I wasn’t encouraged to take and hold a keep, I was encourage to take and then give up the keep so we could get more rolls for loot. I wasn’t encourage to PvP in the realm because I could raise realm rank (and get more powerful) alot faster and with less time invested by queing for an instance. What did Mythixc encourage players to do? Take keeps and then ignore them, queue for instances that had a tiny effect on realm. Even the geography of the rvr zones encourage the exact opposite of realm pride, they were small and tight enough so that the winner was ALWAYS the side that had more people. . .your geography does that in a 2 faction game you’re going to have. . .population imbalance and people quitting. Then inside a month you destroy server communities by starting xfers which DO NOT do anything to help population imbalance, duh.

    The WAR guys didn’t use anything they should’ve learned in DAoC, disappointed alot of people.

  9. Malakili says:

    I think what matters is the community. Now, the game can do a lot to foster a good community, so this isn’t a “blame the players” post. What I mean is, when you know/care about the people you are playing with, you are going to build up camaraderie just by playing together all the time. In a game like Darkfall, this is your clan, in a game like WAR, this is also your clan. The kicker being that in WAR the clan isn’t the main factional division the way it is in Darkfall. This means that you basically get a lot of people running around that don’t give a crap about the players around them. In WAR it isn’t that you care about the people you are assaulting a keep with, its that they are there, like you, to get their loots and move on. Not really much to rally around.

    Realm Pride is the term we assign to the long term effects with playing with the same group of players for a long time, when it happens that these players are all in the same “faction,” but really their allegiance is to each other more than their “side” I think.

    The other part, after having a community of players that cares about each other, is then giving them something to care about as a group. Cities/Keeps/Objectives seems to be the best thing to do, but in order for it to work you need big zones, terrain/land thats actually important to a clan, and so forth. Darkfall does this, EVE does this, DaoC did this too, though not in the same way as the previous two.

    WARs mistake was that it it tried to stuff its fun into little packages. There design principle was “want to do Open RVR, ok, want to do scenarios, ok, want to do PvE ok?” When you can do anything without it really mattering, then you aren’t going to care about the big picture. If WAR had dispensed with the PvE/RvR zone distinction, spread keeps/objkectives across the entire map, made it all open PvP, you can imagine clans caring about keeps, having them be save zones against raiding/roaming parties, bases of operation from which you could go out and do PvE/Open Quests. My point being, they tried to separate their game WAY too much, and in the end that is all it was, a series of mini games that were disconnected.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Ever since I played Shadowbane, faction pvp just doesn’t cut it anymore.

  11. UlrikCDoin says:

    You are missing one point or two points:
    Not only the games are changeing but also the players.
    The bunch of DAOC Gamers long time ago ( me included ) had some sort of innocent look at that sort of game,
    the modern MMORPG players are some what “tainted” from WoW. WoW was their first enlightment to MMORPG,
    any other game will be suffering from that taint.

    In addtion WAR has one additional boulder to carry:
    their GW License, they have to follow the lead from GW
    in present we have chaos and order, you could splitt them into 6 factions, but there will be massive limitations
    Dwarfs will never fight side by side with orcs, chaos, dark elves
    Humans will never fight side by side with orcs, chaos, dark elves
    High Elves humans will never fight side by side with orcs, chaos, dark elves

    There might be cooperation at small scale, some human general my look the other way , if some orcs bash the folu chaos, but he can’t cooperate

    I have no idea to sort this out or implement this in game code.

    • Yeebo says:

      In the table top game there are many largely independent factions. Off the top of my head, Chaos, Greenskins, Skaven, Undead, and Order all have very different goals. Mythic was not forced to screw the pooch by launching with only two factions, they chose to do it.

      • SynCaine says:

        If anything Mythic bent GW lore to put the sides together. High Elves and Dwarves are not likely to work together, nor are Dark Elves with ANYONE.

        If every race is at permanent war with everyone else, whatever alliances form temporarily are all player-based. I doubt that breaks a whole lot of lore (If the Dark Elves team temporarily with the High Elves, clearly that are just using those High Elves for some personal goal, etc)

  12. Bhagpuss says:

    Fallen Earth has 6 sides. How that is actually going to play out in the full PvP game has yet to be determined, but the template for complexity is there.

    On the general theme of “realm pride” and why it worked in DAOC I can give you a simple answer. DAOC launched in 2001, nearly a decade ago, right at the beginning of the 3D MMO genre. At that time MMOs were largely unknown tothe genral gaming populace, let alone the world outside gaming. The majority of MMO players came directly from some kind of roleplaying background, be it MUDs or tabletop RPGs.

    Consequently, most players understood the concept of “roleplaying”, even if they didn’t want to do it themselves. It was very natural for them to see their character as part of the “Realm” in which they started.

    You saw this routinely in PvE games like Everquest. On meeting a new Ogre, Dark Elf, Gnome or Dwarf player character you would have a very good chance of guessing how that character would be played. Gnomes would be scatty and hyperactive, dwarves dour or stolid, dark elves would sneer and posture and ogres would talk like three-year olds with an attitude problem. No-one had to tell players to do this, they just knew when they chose their character races that that’s what they were buying into.

    In DAOC the three realms clearly provided for different player attitudes, and players lived up to that expectation. Albion was pragmatic and thought it had a god-given right to rule, Hibernia was fey, unpredictable, liked a fight and didn’t take things as seriously as they might have done and Midgard was grim, ferocious and had a chip on its shoulder the size of a yule log.

    Realm pride in DAOC was a function of the roleplaying background of the players and the familiar archetypes chosen by Mythic for the three sides. It would be very hard to recreate this effect ten years later because most players in the current, expanded market do not come from the same roleplaying tradition.

    Modern MMO players come either from a straight gaming tradition, or from the post-WoW MMO tradition itself. The player character is now a “toon”. It’s no longer either a roleplayed personality, nor even the avatar of the player. It’s just the playing piece moved around the virtual game board and has little more significance than the boot or top hat in Monopoly.

    If players have little emotional conection even with their own character, it’s unlikely they can be persuaded to feel “realm pride” for any set-up the developers provide.

  13. Stabs says:

    When you say “realm pride” are you not essentially just talking about smacktalk?

    It’s all very well getting people invested in Red Team v Blue Team but if the outputs are bragging, taunting and flaming it’s all just smacktalk in the end.

    And smacktalk is always going to be a tiny minority interest in mmo games which for 99% of players are, as you said yesterday in your WoW is EZ post, about feeling heroic by beating easy challenges.

    • sid67 says:

      Realm pride isn’t smacktalk. It’s about ‘caring’ about what happens to your Realm. It’s about inspiring people to take the Realm cause seriously.

      People join the military in real life because they want to serve their country. They care about their country and are willing to give their life to protect it.

      No one in an MMO is going to give their life, but the more Realm Pride someone has will inspire them to take bigger leaps to defend that pride.

      The alternative is that no one cares. So if your capital is taken, no one even leaves the whatever they are already doing to go defend it. In a game that relies on ‘people showing up’ that kind of attitude ruins it for everyone.

  14. Grimjakk says:

    Tallon (and Vallon) Zek, the “Race War” servers in Everquest had 4 teams initially. But eventually, due to geography and population, the 3 “Light” teams had to band together to hold their own against the “Dark” team. There were still technically 4 teams though… and single-team guilds constantly popped up to shift the status quo one way or another.

    But that WAS a different time… and players still routinely referred to their online avatars as “characters”.

  15. Anne says:

    Good article, one of your better recent ones. Nice insight actually. Rather then just say WAR didn’t succeed because no three factions (even though it is debatable whether or not three is better then two) or some other major reason, you say instead that players didn’t feel pride in their realm because the game itself didn’t draw in the players into the game world. Which I think is a good observation.

    And I don’t know if you agree or not. But I do think there was faction pride in early WoW, even though there wasn’t much. If you remember the old world PVP, one person got attacked and whole battles broke out because everyone wanted to help each other (as well as have heaps of fun). Of course this died down a bit after Battlegrounds came out but it was still mostly there, however after Cross-server BGs it completely died.

    I personally think better communication mechanics are needed in MMORPGs to establish these types of aspects more (one idea to help it anyway). A system that remembers each player you meet, face and fight and allows you to bring up all your past history with them as well as your friend’s past history (friends you have shared information with). As well as a whole list of other things.

  16. Wascal says:

    I have two comments:

    1) You are implying by your article that DAOC used to be a good game. Sure, it is past it’s prime, but it is far from done. Unfortunately (or fortunately if you are Mythic), the combined Ywain server is extremely popular. So popular that there are too many returning people and they are having server stability problems and have had to limit the server to 4k peeps at a time. They are reaching this limit often.

    2) The realm pride in DAOC also had a lot to do with the variance between the different realms. Yes, not duplicating character races/classes between the realms caused a lot of extra work for the developers and caused lots of balance issues for the game. But it also meant that you developed a strong affinity for your realm. When you tried to start over on another realm, it just felt wrong. Things weren’t right. Once you found your realm (whether you preferred Hibernia, Midgard, or (of course the best is) Albion), your desire to help your realm succeed was stronger.

    Hopefully, DAOC is going to be around for a long time. It is the game that invented RvR and truly figured out how to do it right.

  17. Martin says:

    Good article, I pretty much agree with everything you said.

    One more thing I’d like to add though is where I think mythic really droped the ball is with the incentives. The incentives to do PvP and to feel realm pride in WAR were (and in some cases still are) completely messed up. While the idea of getting loot from PvP is great off course, the way in which WAR delivered that was totally off. In the first few months you needed to take keeps to get tiered gear set. This not only encouraged people to not defend keeps, so they could take it back later for loot. It even actively encouraged people to avoid fighting the other realm. Fighting the other realm in fact slowed down your progression, instead of speeding it up. This severely hampered your “hatred” for lack of a better word of the other realm and thus failed to make you feel better about yours. How can you dislike someone you actively avoid? Then there was the PQ system when you actually did capture a keep. While this sounded like a really good system in theory, what it did in reality was turn all the members of your own realm into your competitors. Do you feel proud fighting along side of your competitor? Off course you don’t. You’d much rather have him go away so your chances at loot go up.

    The rewards from pvp should from the start have only come from fighting players. That makes you want to fight and more importantly, win. They tried to remedy this later on by introducing tokes from player kills and RvR lake influence rewards. Things did improve a lot after that, but it was too little too late. A whole lot of players had left by then and the game had started to get a bad rep. In scenarios it was the same thing again. Instead of people wanting to work as a team to win, people were focused on getting as much renown as possible and the easiest way to achieve this was to kill and spawn camp the opposing team instead of focusing on the objectives. People left groups because they could get more renown solo, even though it hurt the team’s chances of winning. While the idea of rewarding people for their contributions sounds great again in theory, they would have been much better off if they had just given everyone a large fixed amount for winning (depending on their level maybe) and only a small bonus for killing players. That would have encouraged people to fight together. I still play WAR (mostly because of my awesome guild) and every time I pug a scenario, even if we win it’s the same thing. Everyone ignores the objectives and spawn camps the other team untill someone is stupid enough to pull the champion guards and our entire team wipes. It makes you dislike the people you play with more than your opponents.

    Then there was the open groups system. Again this sounded good in theory, but what it did was just allow people to be rude. People joined and left group without so much as saying hello. People joining my group without a word alway annoyed the crap out of me and nowaday noone ever starts an open group, maybe with the exception of a pvp warband.

    And last but not least we have the overall campaign. While the idea of attacking and sacking your opponent’s city again sounded great in idea, you and your realm didn’t really gain much from it. In fact, all it really did was penalize the opposing realm instead of rewarding the winning realm. And again in the city PQs the real oponents were your teammates. They wanted the same loot you did. The opposing realm just made it harder to get loot so you did your best to avoid them wherever possible.

    The great thing about relics in DAoC was that they gave you and your realm bonuses, not penalize the other realm. Who cares about the other realm when you actively try to avoid them at every turn?

    Add to that all the things you mentioned in your post, the bugs, out of control CC, unbalanced classes, far to small RvR lakes, a world that feels like a bunch of zones hurled together, no concequences to winning or losing and you don’t end up with a game that’s really fun. Sure, a lot of these things have been, at least partially, fixed. The game could still improve a lot more, but that’s unlikely to happen bacause it will never be able to become what it could have become if it had launched right and if they had spend more time thinking about what the incentives they had in game in beta would do with that masses that would come after the game released.

  18. Ben says:

    “Realm pride” definitely existed in earlier iterations of WoW. As some others have probably pointed out by now, the pre-battlegroup era of BGs and World PVP (on PVP servers) was very engaging. We knew which Horde guilds were jokes and which would stomp all over us, and believe it or not 4-5 Horde players eventually rerolled factions and joined our guild over the course of vanilla due to PVP contact. Over time as PVP has become more faceless the “community” sense you are describing definitely diluted; although WoW did not ultimately suffer greatly from it (at least in terms of subscriptions).

  19. Cliff says:

    This is a very good write up. As several commenters have said, it seems that part of the problem for WAR, and to a larger extent, the issue with Realms to begin with, is compartmentalization. Several cite the instanced Battle Grounds in WoW as a turning point in what realm pride existed in that game. People have to have a sense that things matter, and that those things connect, in order to have a sense of realm pride.

    WAR struggled with trying to make an environment that would be friendly to purely PVE players, but try to entice them into PVP. A good example of this design philosophy is in the way the lakes get larger as the tiers progress, and are designed in such a way that a wandering quester could easily spot a battle raging below them and think “that looks like fun.” I think this is a good idea, but it was not taken far enough and the zones, while easy to go between, thanks to the flightmasters, feel disconnected (thanks to those very same flightmasters). The scenarios are one step further still. Finding a balance that caters to the fun forumla that WAR created with its casual “get in and get out” style of PVP while still retaining a sense of a large integrated world that matters, is a tough balance. I think it is a good idea, but the implementation has to be immaculate for it to work well. Complexity is a killer.

    I also think that 6 factions would have been the way to go rather than 2, or 3. The table top lore is essentially designed to allow for any of the myriad armies in the Warhammer universe to fight each other. There would still be lore problems, but no worse than the present lore bending they have done to squeeze 6 races into 2 factions.

    Finally, I would argue that Lore is an important factor in realm pride. If you are interested enough in the back-story (for instance, if you love to read Gotrek and Felix, or you have a High Elf miniature army) then you already have an affinity for the characters and factions. Lore retcon and overhauls diminishes that.

    WoW is a perfect example. When I played it, I had fond memories of Warcaft I and II, and that played a strong part in my interest and immersion in the game. The lore was derivative but it was at least mildly interesting, and made a good shell for a game world. They have changed their lore so often, and so radically, to accommodate whatever gameplay they see fit, that it no longer created any sort of attachment. The world fell apart so to speak and I was left with just a cartoony game.

  20. Sean says:

    Odd that Planetside hasn’t so far come up in this discussion. If any recent MMO reflects the sort of realm or faction pride being discussed, Planetside surely is a noteworthy example. Listen to any Planetside veteran talk about their past exploits and note the frequent use of the first-person plural. “We” pushed the NC off the tower, “we” held out against a continent lock against the Vanu, etc.

    In my short time with the game I was struck with how quickly and effortlessly players identified with their particular faction. At least early in the game’s life, the underlying solid attack/defend mechanics combined with high player density made even a losing battle a satisfying encounter. Since no defeat was ever really final, one could always regroup and launch a counterattack or play out the Alamo in a fever pitch battle to survive.

    Even if you never invested in the lore of the factions, the thematic consistency of the factions gave players a foundation to construct their own narratives about what they were doing and who they were. I left the game pretty early and I’ve always wondered why more didn’t stick with the game given how compelling those stories were and are. While I’ll almost certainly be checking out SW:TOR, I think I most interested in seeing how Planetside 2 plays out.

  21. Pingback: The melding of free-for-all and faction-driven games. « Harmony in game design

  22. valkrysa says:

    Hey SynCaine, I’ve been a reader of your blog for a long time and recently started my own. If you end up having some free time to quickly take a look at my proposed alternative faction system here: http://melodiousgames.wordpress.com/2010/01/18/the-melding-of-free-for-all-and-faction-driven-games/
    it would mean a lot to see your input (positive or negative).
    Essentially what I suggest is a faction system where players start out in a number of predefined factions but can graduate to a free-for-all player built system if they so chose.

    • SynCaine says:

      Hey Valkrysa, left a comment on your blog, overall I like the idea. Just tough to say how it would play out since we have never seen such a system in action, which is always somewhat dangerous in MMO land.

      • valkrysa says:

        Thanks for looking it over :)

        In a few years though, after SWToR, we may see some more experimental systems in our mmo’s. Either that or the indie developers will continue to try to provide us with them.

        p.s. @ all, changed commenting moderation rules

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