PvP and a Meaningful Experience

A few days ago there was a post on Keen And Graevs gaming blog with the thought that maybe .. just maybe PvP isn’t neccesary in these online worlds of ours and I just wanted to say one thing for now NAAAH AAHHH. That was my initial thought anyway and one which seems a bit childish but these interests of ours are very diverse and the big major mechanic that divides mmo players is if you like killing Ai or players. His is a subjective thought as is my own but I think the thought is worth discussing. Fuel to the fire in the debate of PvE v PvP but what the hell anyway

I’ll be honest as well and say that for most mmo’s they really shouldn’t have bothered with PvP but here I am a bit different as I don’t think it is a failing inherent in the genre or that this mechanic I love is not suited to the genre but that it is a fundamental failing in the implementation. What we have at the moment is either a tacked on mini game or unstructured open world conflict. Battlegrounds and random ganking or zerging is not well thought out pvp, i have got a kick from it occasional but it is meaningless.

But then a vast rich PvE world is rather meaningless as well without the randomness people bring to it, without change in a persons situation exploration is only worthwhile that first time as after that the novelty wears off.

I guess I envision myself packing a bag full of resources, and setting off in a direction with friends to see what we can find.  I like the idea of not knowing what’s out there, or not knowing when I’ll be back to town because the game — the world — is letting me go off and truly make the “player vs. environment” a reality.   Danger, intrigue, exploration of the unknown, and enjoying how I interact with the world rather than enjoying what I get out of it are attributes I don’t experience or see emphasized enough.

This is the interesting statement here, thoughts of adventure and intrigue are great and we should be supporting this more in game development. But then it comes to the question of what happens after you know what’s out there, when you know what the next town holds, where the monsters are and what their attack patterns are, when everything ends up on wiki or a youtube guide. It is proliferation enough with the playerbase being so reliant on the interenet that content no longer last as much as it used to so making a world wherein your relying on the novelty of developer made content to sustain a population just isn’t the right approach and is why most of these games only last a couple months.

One reason I think PvP has no place in many of the current gen mmo’s is that it has take on a progression system from Pve that really doesn’t suit it, PvP for PvP’s sake is great and all but if that’s what people want then they are going to go somewhere that does it better and many games out there do it far far better then mmo’s and in particular mmorpg’s. It has become so separated from it’s origins and the world around that in reality not having PvP would not really change the experience that much.

And that is the key here, that PvP needs to be an integral part of the virtual world for it feel a part of an mmo. Everyone working being a part of the same experience is what makes it feel more like a virtual world, traders, crafters, gathers, dungeon crawlers, gankers and everyone in between are all parts of it and without one of them the experience will never be more. Player freedom is not something you can just turn off in regards to PvP and expect a virtual world to form. In a weird twist Keen also purported how vital the power of choice can be, the choice in how someone is able to grow there character and it is the reason UO always felt like more then the some of it’s parts.. character choices were meaningful whether you be a crafter or someone who kills and steals.

PvP is rarely meaningful in mmo’s and I think that’s why people get so angry with the random ganker, there is no reason to it other than to annoy people but if there was, if PvP was meaningful that may change peoples thought on it. But making it meaningful entails a fair bit extra attention by developers compared to the systems we have now. There needs to be some sort of consequence to indiscriminate actions against others, there should be no such thing as killing with impunity and that silly little debuff I see quite often isn’t enough.

Then there is the risk/ reward that should be inherently a part of any and all PvP actions which I rarely see and this is only a small part of making it meaningful and within the context the world. People may not be ready for it all though and I am thoroughly aware of that, the player as a hero has been constantly iterated in design and anything that may conflict with this, that makes people feel less then others, powerless and such is dealt with poorly. Maybe if there was more to the world and pvp then just ganking people could accept it and move on.

Eve has been doing this for many many years now, and intermingling of full PvP with many other types of people and it works by everyone supply each other. A crafting system and economy never eventuates without pvp to kind of mess it all up, destroying peoples hard work so it can begin anew and well pvp’ers rely on many others in a community to fulfill functions they care not for… an mmo version of the circle of life. The systems in Archeage have gone a long way in bringing about a meaningful system, clues of guilt, jailing, a full fledged outlaw system, and territory control.. it’s enough to make me leap with anticipation but it is still removed in certain aspects which makes me think that it will still be a superficial experience as it misses the connection of everyone together.

I hope one day we can all work together again as part of a world each once again performing a vital part in creating a dynamic player driven experience.. like i read about in all those old UO stories, it wasn’t just a world full of wonder and adventure that was at times punishing to ignorance it was the entire experience combined. Hearing the recent stories by Keen and even Syncaine at Harcore Casual makes me hope for a new age iteration, it makes me wonder why we don’t have a successor yet and I think it isn’t just because of WoW.

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3 thoughts on “PvP and a Meaningful Experience

  1. I feel like I might be a rare type of MMORPG player. I enjoy roleplaying, I’ve been an officer in multiple hardcore raiding guilds, I love open PvP, and I love organized/battleground PvP. My biggest issue with the typical PvE/PvP dichotomy is how designers have continued more and more toward maintaining that split, as opposed to lessening it.

    We have safe zones. We have all hell has broken loose zones. We have zones that only are interesting at specific times. We have PvP-specific progression. We have 100% PvE that can be done without any PvP elements. We have 100% PvP that can be done without any PvE elements. We have queuing to the extent that you can just PvE or just PvP and ignore the entire other half of the game. It is absurd.

    MMOs (and I blame WoW mostly) have become too focused on catering to a wide variety of distinct crowds, which only serves to reinforce each individual group. I want a game that blends PvE and PvP elements without making either feel utterly forced or utterly separate. Even if that means more competitive PvE or even if it means PvP with more AI thrown in the mix, I am tired of cooking separate meals for every set of taste buds in the room!

    • Good to see I’m not the only one. I love pvp but I also love well thought out dungeons, crafting gathering exploring and i even role played once upon a time in lotro and enjoyed it. And don’t get me started on the awkward mechanics they put in as a measure to try and appease both but ends up spoiling it all. All or Nothing as anything else is just pointless.

      I don’t blame Wow entirely, the one thing they did show us was that there is a huge population of very different groups of players. It was catering to and keeping them separate which ruined the worldly feel.

      • I think developers were pretty aware of diverging groups before WoW. In my Everquest and Ultima Online days, I remember long forum arguments about whether PvE people are ‘carebears’ and how PvP players are the master race of MMOs.

        WoW just took it all to another level in one distinct package, which over time grew in its popularity, capacity to appease, and willingness to bend over backwards.

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