To Finish of the Week of our first Voluntines, an event that has created some amazing personal posts about our interests and background comes a post from the Mr Murf, the Ringmaster himself. It seemed fitting to do this and not because I lost the original link to it…. Anyway, here he talks about some of those earlier MMO’s and the where and how they encouraged his interest in PvP. About how these experiences that may seem frustrating at first can serve to engage and create a far more interesting world.
I consider Healing the Masses to be a sister blog to my own. Though I’ve restarted blogs a few times now, Eri began Healing the Masses roughly around the time I began my first blog through the Newbie Blogger Initiative. Over time, as we’ve become friends and blogmates, it became more and more apparent that we share certain similar attitudes toward MMORPGs. That’s why when Voluntines Week presented the opportunity, I wanted to show my appreciation by joining her on her own home turf to write about PvP.
Though I began my MMORPG career with Ultima Online, I did so after the Renaissance expansion created Trammel, a version of the game’s world with zero PvP that rendered Ultima’s wild west obsolete. In its place was a carebear paradise, and that’s where I spent most of my time.
To be perfectly honest, the idea of PvP scared me. The direct conflict, the tangible loss, the fact that I wasn’t in control of my own game session – these factors all compounded to keep me as far away from Ultima’s PvP free-for-all areas for good.
In one of my earliest experiences taking the risk of open PvP, a guild leader tried to recruit me and a friend. In Ultima Online, guilds were created by guild stones which were placed inside houses. His guildhouse happened to be in the open PvP area, and he wanted to give us a tour. Obviously, this was a bad idea because as soon as we stepped into his house, he declared us trespassers and killed us both (neither of our characters were very advanced) without taking any sort of penalty. I had just bought the suit of armor he took off my body corpse too.
For a lot of people, that would be a huge turn-off, probably spoiling them on direct conflict with other players in MMOs forever. That was largely how I felt too. My opinion began to change, however, because I constantly taunted and spoke poorly of that fellow whenever I had a chance. Unlike in most games where your nemesis is forced upon you by a narrative, mine was given to me by chance and choice. Even if I never went back, that experience stayed in the back of my mind, slowly warping my view of PvP.
I tried other games, including branching more and more out into PvP, but it was World of Warcraft that convinced me that I could PvP. Heck, it even convinced me that I could enjoy it.
I started WoW later than my friends, so when I finally began playing, I was forced to follow them to a RP-PVP server. It was still vanilla, so people were actively leveling and participating in the lower level zones. That meant lots of opportunities for me to be ganked, harassed, camped, and every other horror that open PvP can inflict upon your character. Those things did happen, but more and more, I began to enjoy them.
Yes, someone camping you sucks. It interrupts your play, produces no benefit for either party, and is largely just an activity done by griefers looking to grief. At the same time, it forces people to seek help and to cooperate. That’s exactly what I did too. If someone was getting camped, I’d run to help out or at least help rally some troops together. Even if the activity did slow down my crawl toward the final level, it was fun. Plus, I met cool people doing it. Just like that one guy that murdered me in Ultima Online, I made rivals too.
For one, there was an Alliance druid who leveled at exactly the same pace as I did, so whenever I’d do a Battleground, we’d bump into one another. At the time, queues were server specific, so you became familiar with the names of your enemies. I don’t know anything about the guy, but I hated him. He’d always use his druid powers to run his team’s flag back and forth. I, as an up-and-coming rogue, typically found myself slowly stealthing toward the enemy flag – the same one he was barreling toward, mind you. Skill-wise, we were evenly matched, but neither of us ever wasted an opportunity to emote something nasty at the other.
For the other major one, there was an Alliance guild, epic’d to the nines, and always willing to step on Horde players both big and small. The Horde side on my server was very underplayed, so we had no guild with equivalent raid experience or loot as this one. If they wanted control of a teleportation stone, they took it by force (relatively little was required since gear level discrepancies were entirely out of control in late vanilla).
Though I enjoyed Battlegrounds and city raids and getting revenge on campers, I absolutely adored fighting over control of instance entrances. Especially when it carried over into The Burning Crusade where I had found myself in that top server guild role for a change, it added a sense of dynamism. The word felt less static, less like a game. More important than the goals you had determined for yourself before logging in, PvP could make your entire night turn on the dime toward an epic confrontation. It kept you on your toes and helped keep you invested in your community.
Some of this is specific to my own experiences. Many others will have entirely different accounts of communities so toxic that others on their side refused to help or worse. Perhaps I got lucky or perhaps I am whitewashing a past that really was far more annoying than I now recall.
However, I cannot shake the attitude that PvP can drastically improve an experience (perhaps as much as it can ruin it for others). As MMOs more and more become games about alternative from lobby to instance with nothing in between, PvP that takes place in the real world rather than a set-off location becomes less and less relevant.
Many utter a sigh of relief at the thought. Others, like myself, view it as yet another important part of the genre that has been hollowed out in favor of accessibility and mass market appeal. That may be a good thing to grow the market share of the genre, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is a good thing for someone like me.