Discussing da PvP

* disclaimer for opinionated post that may come across as inflammatory…please excuse my rage… Rawr *

As usually happens when servers go down for maintenance during Aussie prime time >< I decided to peruse the forums and apart from a few interesting short stories one post piqued my interest. It was an avid PvP player lamenting the loss of open world combat, in particular ganking people. It was amusing in a sense how much he was flamed for the opinion but just a little unnerving. I took the time to add my opinion and my level headed and constructive response ( read as verbal diarrhea) seemed to cool the discussion down a bit and there were some interesting responses. You can have a look at the post here, and my responses are around the 7 and 14 page mark.

The thing that bothers me most about this thread is that many are posting from relative ignorance regarding why someone would like open world PvP and what ganking is and means. It seems as though most of these opinions are being guided by the negative stereotypes and of course I took many of their attacks on the mental state of a ganker a we bit personally but how could I not. I tried to be reasonable as well as constructive in my argument but the message is mostly being lost and this leads me to my little pvp primer.

Hi, I’m a Ganker and Proud

What open world pvp is, seems to be very misconstrued lately. There are some variations on the model such as toggling, loot differences and extent of safety but not really enough to explain the level of misinformation perpetually making the rounds. Every time such as subject gets brought up it invariably leads to horrible ganking stories of continual lowbie slaughter and the terrible ugly demise of community. This is so far from the truth that it really is quite comical, sure lowbies will be killed and people battling mobs will be jumped but no where near on that level of destruction. It also seems the wonderful stories and experiences that have come from it are mostly forgotten or ignored which skews people’s perception.

For the most part people need to experience this type of combat to understand the thrill, even if your not undertaking ganking playing on an open world server is a completely different play-style and if you play it like your stock standard PvE your gonna have a bad time. It means always being aware of your surroundings, taking precautions and ultimately being complacent about death. There has been an article floating around that keeps getting iterated but contains the same points. It was called Law of the jungle and popped up on the Tera forums at release, if you want a more elaborate explanation then I have space for, check it out. The main point though is that you will die and you will be ganked, a lot, get over it, get active and maybe even get even.

GW2 seems to be making an easy pick up and play experience for those wanting to dabble. While the GW2 wuvwuv is more a nursery in terms of a open world PvP environment it may hopefully encourage to experience such a setting, share great experiences and maybe remove a little of the stigma surrounding it. But since it doesn’t involve that constant state of apprehension and excitement that comes from always being in danger it is a poor substitute. Who knows though, if people enjoy the thrill of carnage enough they may just graduate from the crib up to the big kids table

Y U like mayhem

I am a complicated idiot at times, and that must be clearly visible in the haphazard nature of the posts subjects. It ranges from posts adhoring the story and atmosphere, to ramblings about mechanics and the occaisional treatise about PvP. But I love pvp, I really do and the more carnage the better. It is hard to describe the exact felling of exhilaration you get from playing against others, I could liken it to beating that big bad boss but that would be an understatement. People are merciless and unforgiving so it becomes a kill or be killed scenario. In the current generation you only lose time but for those of a more serious nature the ability to lose something greater heightens the experience.

When a battle starts the blood starts pumping and the brain goes into overdrive. There is no tried and tested strategy to undertake every time like an AI, each and every fight is dynamic. It requires quick critical thinking and even quicker actions to formulate and execute the right plan for your attacker. You may have certain strategies but being flexible is just as important, surveying the ebb and flow of the fight and acting accordingly. When engaging in da PvP my hubby has taken to calling me Rudolf, as I get so flushed after great fights that my cheeks are a bright red.

I love that feeling. It is definitely not the type of thrill suited for everyone but it is a thrill unmatched by anything a developer could ever program. You may ask why not just do instanced pvp? From my own experience, while it can be just as exhilarating at its peak the open world environment prolongs the sensation, stretching out the high. I guess it would be the mystery and fear of the unknown that does this. You never know when the next fight will be or who will be attacking. A post over at Random Average describes this feeling very well wherein a sense of uncertainty can bring about a more defined sense of engagement and fun. It can be hard to embrace the feeling especially when one has always been safe, but it can be worth it.

Why I like da open PvP is because it gives me a greater sense of control. In my opinion this is the primary difference between the 2 server types, in a PvE environment you relinquish your control to others, usually the GM and developers. On a pvp server the onus of control is upon the player and community, and this is quite a grand thing when it gets going. You have control over your actions and precautions, you have control over any retaliatory actions. Whenever I see someone have a whine in chat about someone who killed and is killing them I just have to laugh, as this is you relinquishing control and in essence it is only then the ganker has won. If however you put a call out for some assistance, ask in chat or enlist the help of players in the same predicament, then you are taking control.

Taking control is also a great confidence builder and you will probably find the more you exercise control the more comfortable you get, and the more you really don’t want to relinquish this control. The wonderful thing about a PvP environment though when you take responsibility and gain control is that there will always be time for revenge. When leveling in Tera a few of the close groups I was with had there own personal kill lists of people who wronged them, and when able to they took revenge.

Funnily enough I think it is these chaotic environments that promote player interaction and community ties more than a purely PvE game ever could. It is a system wherein player co-operation is promoted and due to the unpredictable nature of the environment grouping up with others is advised whether you want to PvE in peace or go on a rampage. Promoting people to group is always a good thing and seems to becoming a lost art in recent mmo iterations, as it is when you group that friendships and communities tend to form and grow. I also see a lot more consistent cross guild talk whether it be casual talk, group events, alliances, vendettas and such when it is a more punishing PvP environment. It just seems it fosters that capital M feeling that seems to be missing lately, of course there are many ways to foster this but a dangerous environment is definitely a major point… or I could just be talking out my ass.

Fairplay

Fair combat doesn’t exist and never has whether on the open plains,the smallest arena or duel. It is a fantasy many have fallen into. I’m ok with dying to someone of higher level, greater gear or even a group because I am aware fair play is just an illusion. Sure you can bring the balance of a fight closer to an equilibrium but one side will always have an advantage. Here’s a list of possible factors I can think of right now and I’m sure there are many more.

  • Gear
  • Level
  • Skills
  • Terrain
  • Latency
  • Player skill
  • Player experience
  • Player knowledge
  • Keybinding
  • Class unbalances (build counters)
  • Team numbers
  • Team composition
  • Familiarity with map/ surroundings
  • Mob aggro
  • First hit ( aggressor)

Someone will always have the advantage but the point is to never give up, always fight your best because if you do then you win regardless of the outcome as you are continuing to learn. I have even made a couple of friends out of gankers because even though I lost I never gave up and put up a decent fight.

Ganking

Firstly I want to preface by saying there are many different types and styles of gankers, which vary immensely in the amount they pk. I myself am probably a combination of gentleman’s PvP and for the lolz. While I don’t gank very often probably because I usually play a healing class not suited to hit and run tactics, I still enjoy having a go occasionally. I pretty much always pk around my level but I have killed those far lower and most probably will again. I have even enjoyed forming a little posse and going on killing sprees as well. It may sound sociopathic but from my view it is all about exercising that sense of power that can only come when you have more control. Power can be exhibited in many ways though, I have feel power in repelling attackers or making it to safety. Level can matter very little when it comes to feeling a sense of power which is probably why people still gank lowbies, in the end you can feel just as much power from killing that same dragon the 30th time even after you greatly outgear the encounter… it’s kind of the same thing.

The hard part when it comes to ganking of any kind is that people have forgotten they should be careful, that other players can be and probably are dangerous. Many of the genres iterations have taught people that they are basically invulnerable and a god to be feared. After being ganked for the first time, and consequently afterwards it is a resounding shock to the system. It is easy to blame the ganker, the developers or the mechanics you think were to blame but in the end it was all up to you. In Tera while fighting in and around the bridge against gankers we had to flag to fight them yet low level players kept walking past and into our attacks, were stunned, killed and yet they were quite angry at our reply of watch where your walking. It was quite obvious that danger was afoot but they were oblivious. A sense of personal responsibility is hard to instill, especially in this age now it seems and a realisation many are not equipped to deal with.

The most important thing to remember on a PvP server though is that the players ARE the content. They make the world, they fill it with hopes, dreams, and tears… It is why a PvP server can often feel a lot more fleshed out as you are forever surrounded in content. That person trying to gank you is more important than any of the quest mobs your grinding, with combat far more enjoyable. That ganker higher level then you is the area boss, something to be feared and cautious of, get a team together and see how you go. Hell, if you see another player running past and your bored of the 50th mob you have just killed have a shot at them, if that was me being attacked I would thank you for brightening my dreary questing. Win or lose it is all fun just don’t stress about it as in the end you really have nothing to lose.. which is especially true in most systems these days

Griefing

Griefing is kind of hard to describe but most of the time people over react when using this term. That person who ganked you is not griefing whether or not you were in the middle of something is not griefing you, that is merely the environment being “dynamic”. Even if he ganked you again and again because you went back to questing in the same area, well that is shame on you. In a PvE experience you are expected to learn from an encounter so should you here; get help, get even or take precautions. If the person is purposely stalking you, well that’s probably an issue. If your being spam killed at a spawn point take the time to plan you sweet revenge. I have many times been camped by solo people and groups and not once did i truly have what could be called rage as I accept that you will not always have complete control.

But griefers inhabit every online environment their is using actions or words. In one mmo I was unable to complete many different quests because certain elements had taken to repeatedly killing the mob that I needed with out me having a chance, when a person has control this type is more unlikely. I have been verbally griefed after kicking some booty in your average fps, repeatedly mailed to my psn the most heinous stuff but there is a block and delete for a reason. There are unsavourable elements in any online environment and singling out the PvP environment for this online is kind of ignorant. To every high of a community or environment there is always a terrible counterpoint, the ying and the yang, and as nice German proverb I like says “Who has never tasted what is bitter does not know what is sweet”… Kind of poignant.

Fare Thee Well

If you have gotten this far down I really do thank you for reading the whole lot. I may have come across as inflammatory in my remarks, though it is just a product of my disappointment with previous experiences. It is also due to the self entitled nature of the PvE crowd riling up my hackles. I respect everyone’s rights to opinions about their preferred play-style, I neither troll or demean those I don’t agree with but it seems even though us “gankers” have a bad reputation of immaturity it is many of the PvE crowd that are truly disrespectful. I do not deny either that both sides have their cretins, it just seems as though, in general that a PvE opinion is usually lauded while an opinion towards PvP gets a sideways glance of skepticism.

The Part that makes all this the worst though is that there are no big budget titles whose direction is more towards PvP, no developer direction towards bigger, better and more complicated open world experiences, we get a handful of solid indie pieces and Eve. It is enough at times to make you feel like the drunk uncle at a family gathering, always ready for fun but perpetually in the wrong environment.

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