The PvP Debate

It’s quite funny that one of the discussion points for this weeks events is surrounding the use and purpose of PvP in mmo’s when I was actually going to start posting about it anyway. The old MMO debate between psychopaths and Carebears. It started for me last week when there was a post over at XP chronicles discussing the usefulness of Open world PvP that, while outlining many of the popular opinions on the matter it missed many factors that I find invaluable. I just had to write a reply but it seems it is turning into a few replies around certain parts. So, now that this talkback challenge is here it gives me an even better excuse.

A few other discussions so far come from

JVT Workshop who sees the lazy way it is often designed

House of witches notices how PvP changes the environment and a few key characteristics learnt from the Illum experiment

Doctor Hannah hates certain mandatory aspects of it

Looking for Playtime wonders why we always seem to deal with extremes that go between FFA and a sterile experience in a curated world

The question for me isn’t so black and white. For a lot of discussion with MMO’s we always seem to get stuck in dichotomies, that there must be one right way for everything and the discussion of Open world PvP gets the worst of it. The problem here is that for a lot of people their only introduction to open world PvP is in either WoW or one of the many clones that litter the genre and for that system it really is hard to get interested and get involved in such a situation. It is nothing more in most cases than a lazy marketing strategy which unfortunately seems to be the most popular way of doing Open world PvP. I feel sorry if that’s the only type people have known, it’s an easily abused system with little consequence and absolutely no purpose.

Now that’s not to say I don’t find such a thing fun, i do.. immensely. That feeling of exhilaration that comes from the unknown that permeates near every aspect of your play. Simple activities become more interesting and the whole experience more enjoyable to me. As for the question though, if I’m thinking realistically about the mmo population I would have to say having open world PvP depends on the game. For the usual themepark nonsense, the server flagging will suffice although the way some of them go about it..just yeeeeshhh. For the genre, I believe it is a feature that can greatly improve the experience as long is it is being supported in the design.

There are a few points wherein I think it improves MMO’s as well as a few extra challenges there for those that want to incorporate it. I was going to do a little mini-series on each point, and might still do that but I also might give a quick Overview now.

PvP as Content

It’s funny with the way development has been for MMO’s for so long and with how players are being trained in that anything that interrupts the questing process is deemed either irrelevant or an annoyance. The thing is, PvP can and is an interesting form of content. It is dynamic content that can neither be planned for or is run by some sort of script. It is huge, epic and with the right mechanics supporting it can almost create content indefinitely.

Power Problems

The problem with PvP being content of course is that you often see huge power differentials that make the experience not very fun to be involved with. Highly geared players running amok in lower zones killing without any sort of challenge. Now while I still think this can bring about awesome PvP through guilds or other players getting involved to stop it I think the main issue people have here isn’t necessarily the act of getting ganked but the fact they have no chance of fighting back. This is not the fault of PvP but more that most, if not all of these MMO”s are level and gear based and the differences are huge.


Often there is no reason but a highly contrived faction based lore to create and maintain conflict. It does well creating targets but it’s far from being meaningful and leaving it up to players to make the distinction between enemies and friends in my mind is always the better option. Tera created a system that many felt very engaged in with its open world PvP wherein it was guild based and not just another open flagging system (that was part too though). The other element is that we actually need there to be reasons for PvP so as to both direct the action and maintain it. There are a lot of ways to do that with territory and resource control being a good start but there many other ways to make PvP more meaningful in a way that encourages people to join in, make ganking appear less mindless and that makes it easy to understand when and where it will happen.


A very tricky subject as must people find being ganked an awful experience even though it is of no detriment to them. Death penalties have been gone for a long time now. To me I think the issue here comes down to consequence. People hate that someone can kill without any negative actions and, even more irritating is that the mechanics that are often designed to support them like safe zones and such help the other escape from retribution as well.

There are a few differences in the mechanics being used in these Open PvP systems to control an actions but I always seem to see them being abused. It’s hard to design as they won’t to create a system that is both fair and open to people at the same time. The problem is that there is no perfect way to program this, they have tried and failed many times and I don’t think it will ever happen. You see, in many of these circumstances they are taking away control from the players when they should be promoting it.

Imagine if the players themselves created the consequence. If control of towns, outposts and cities was deigned to the players and they set the permission lists, those that are safe within and those to be hunted. Then we might see more consequence towards those who gain a reputation. The unsavourable elements are definitely the minority and might control a few spaces but the rest would be far more amenable to control… it would be an amazing political situation as well. In this situation, with actual in-game consequences to negative acts (and not a mere mini game) I’m guessing we would see far less opportunistic gankers.


Lastly, and unlike the opinions of some PvP, especially when it’s supported creates one of the most engaged and fervent communities around. The thing with PvP in the open world is that it encourages people to group and to seek out larger guilds, corps, potatoe farmers in order to gain a certain amount of protection and I see this as a very positive thing. It creates the initial engagement with the community, experiences for gaining more contacts and well, MMO’s are just more enjoyable with other people around. We also know that MMO’s survive based on the engagement of the community, it’s a part that helps increased longevity.

It’s a point that’s been missing from mmo’s for a long time that needs to be revived and while there are certainly other ways to promote grouping PvP is amongst the better reasons. It’s a natural reason to group that with other mechanics creates long term group content. Unlike other forms of content it’s also the only type of content where the amount, or level of players really doesn’t matter. The Ancient Gaming Noob has been discussing this a bit lately with his experiences in Eve and I have to say that’s an incredible feature for an MMO to have yet rarely see.

Now for some people Player vs Player content is never going to appeal to them, and while this is a shame it is their decision. T9he point is that with Open world PvP developed within the context of the mmo and connected with a range of other features that you often don’t have to engage in it to be a part of it. There is the economics, the politics and many other supporting elements there that never have to be that involved. Sure you can also have an MMO without the PvP elements too, and I think that could work for a time but in the end it would always come down to being something like farmville or cookie clicker… an experience involving gaining increased wealth and not much else. There is a reason Eve works the way it is.



32 thoughts on “The PvP Debate

  1. I can only refer to World PvP from a WoW and EVE perspective so just starting with that. As far as consent, I think there is a penalty to being ganked. Sure, my gear doesn’t degrade, I can’t be looted, my attacker gets no xp (and likely no honor) or anything of value…but I do lose time. I now have to run back to my corpse. There’s a decent chance that my attacker will be waiting, so I either need to fight back or spend time fleeing to avoid him/her. The ganker has effectively taken control of my gaming time. Now for me personally, since I don’t have much of it, that time is precious so when someone else has co-opted my ability to determine what I do with my fun, I start losing enjoyment. I’m sure there are people out there that like that “always on” feeling, but not me personally; mainly due to the fact that most ganking occurs between people of massive power differentials. There is no chance for me to fight back. My only real option is to wait him/her out in various ways (doing something else, leaving, etc).

    So in a sense, the ganker has stolen my MOST valuable possession; my time, and I have no way to take theirs or punish them for it.

    • see, i don’t think anyway can take control away form someone .. it’s something you relinquish. In a circumstance like that I’ve called on guildies for help, people in the same area in the same situation… put out a tell in zone chat and 90% of the time this will relieve the situation.

      ON those other times I’m just more aware. I don’t quests in the same space, or in that specific area or channel. I move around and watch my surroundings so I can and do avoid it. The main issue then is the far too linear questing that funnels people in the same way.

      • Sorry Eri, I’m going to have to agree with (I think) pretty much everyone else here: being forced to PvP, even if it’s just dying to a bored griefer, absolutely means you have lost control of your playtime. Those efforts you list as remedies or relief, they are simply your attempts to regain control. While you may not literally be controlling someone by ganking them or forcing them to PvP, you are definitely restricting their available choices in an immediate and emphatic way. That is, after all, the whole point of griefing – to deny someone the ability to do the activity they want to be doing. And to a strictly PvE-minded player, ganking and griefing are pretty much the same thing. Hell, even a persistent, evenly- or over-matched opponent can ruin a PvE player’s time by forcing them to divert their attention away from what they’d rather be doing.

      • the thing is, I think most people conflate random acts of PvP immediately with the term griefing and that’s certainly not the same act. Often the act isn’t even about you, the target in the slightest but more just someone egaging in some content by rules defined by the server. Of course this can go much further but in my travels that sort of PvP has always been the rarity. Perhaps that’s because I will fight back too, will seek them out again to see if I best them and even chat with my attacker openly. It’s this sort of underground community I enjoy being a apart of even if I don’t actively gank myself.

        I know some people see it as the worst act possible, something infringing on their apparent gaming rights. This is a very self serving opinion.. just the same as one that would act on their own interests to gank. Personally, I think that the PvP marker on a server is consent. I know people will argue against that but when you enter such a thing it means you have an understanding of the rules and guidelines that entails and I’ve had many amazing experiences because of that whether they were forced or sought.

        I remember resorting to such acts in my time with TERA, during that early beta experience we would reach the cap and then make our own fun, part of that being the toll guards on a popular crossing bridge. requiring people to pay us a fee, and a rather small one at that to pass. This was some of the best content we had experienced in the game. It kept us busy, laughing and meeting a lot of people. some would attempt ot pass us by force, others trying to go around who we would cut down, others passed with some coin and a kind word. We even had guild groups come through some days for impromtu GvG action. WE formed close bonds with many, even alliances to take with us later on.. all from the simple act of wanting to gank one day. I’ve never seen this sort of community connection from any instanced content.. or any pve experience.

        Now, I do think the situation with ganking gets quite bad a certain points in time in mmo’s. When the current raiding cycle has completed and progression points gained it leaves many looking for alternative content and ganking is always there and amazingly it has a variety of places it can be done against many different types of enemies. It fulfils that urge but this can’t be the only way to do it. There has to be some other ways to engage people in the open world otherwise people will resort to this sort of thing and I’m not talking about dailies either.

      • I think you are talking about something slightly different to what I am. Your TERA experience sounds awesome, but it wasn’t the kind of forced PvP that I had in mind when I disagreed with you above. Your toll guard escapades didn’t force anyone into combat. They chose to engage you (or not). You were creating content for them as well as yourself. The situation I was talking about is if you were just running around randomly attacking people who were going about their business. In games where there is no consequence for the attacker (either risk or reward) and only minor consequence for the victim (lost time) then the only reasons people have to randomly attack others are boredom and/or sociopathic. To someone in a PvE mindset, this random act of PvP, even though completely allowed by the server/game ruleset, is nothing but harassment. It doesn’t matter if you only get ganked by each person once, if it happens several times in a play session, you’re likely to get frustrated and start to question whether it’s worth your time. I’m not sure how many people actually consider it a ‘right’ to remain undisturbed in a PvP ruleset, but the lack of consequences for either party would suggest that OWP isn’t important, and thus initiating it against someone who doesn’t want to is quite possibly a matter of decency in many people’s minds, in the same way that kill-stealing or node-stealing is.

      • oh no, we definitely forced quite a few into our own experience and killed those effortlessly and endlessly that tried to avoid us. It was the one in and out road from a major quest area and we would control it for days haha.. was a lot of fun. Just saying that sometimes it isn’t as black and white as gankers being anti-social. Many times the act creates moments fpr being social either from the aggressor or those being attacked.

        Legitamate PvP is a whole other debate all by itself. Some people consider it fine, other see that it brings out real PvP. like everything depends on peoples interests. Me, I’ve ganked occasionally but it’s not generally my thing. I do open pvp people though but I’m generally one of those weird people that will bounce around nearby you waiting for you to finish with the mob first, plus a moment to recover before engaging. That’s my own PvP morality but to be honest, that morality is very flexible. Tis a game after all and it’s fun to the involved with a variety of experiences.

        I’m definitely now saying every experience must have it, and to be honest I don’t think it should be an addition in games like WoW anymore. The times when it produced worthwhile content are long gone.

      • There are so many options available to the player in order to circumvent any actions like this. You can reach out to friends and guildies, send a message in chat, group up with others nearby and still other methods of action and avoidance. Unfortunately it seems some people just believe in a world that’s subservient to them and when there is conflicting information they don’t know where to turn. Giving up in this case is relinquishing control.

        I will admit I’ve seen situations go to far but then I’ve never been in a situation that completely stopped my play. And if it annoys or frustrates for a time that’s a peril of being on a pvp server. It’s why they mark them as such

  2. I absolutely agree that a major problem with current OWP is a gap in the consequences area. By that I mean there are the two extremes of major loss of gear/xp/progress on death (i.e. high risk), or no real consequences either for dying or for doing the killing (i.e no risk). There is a huge gap that needs to be explored, and I think that certain Korean games are taking those first major steps into finding that great balance. EVE does a pretty good job, I think, of balancing the risks and rewards, but it is particular to that genre of spaceship combat and I highly doubt that it could be easily adapted to a more traditional avatar-based MMO. I believe that Age of Wushu and ArcheAge, with their justice systems, are a great step in the right direction to making OWP more meaningful for everyone involved. As for mixing OWP with PvE, I think it can be done, but the game would have to be designed from the ground up to support both playstyles, rather than the current process of taking a PvE/PvP game and tacking PvP/PvE onto it for maximum market appeal.

    • it’s not just that gap, although that is a large part. It’s the incredibly linear approach to both progression and zone design that conflates the problem. It’s the way these games encourage, increasingly, that we treat them more like a single player experience. It’s that we are always getting this forced hero message, that we are godlike an untouchable forever crammed down our throats to the point that anything that conflicts with this is incredibly jarring.
      NOw I don’t mean to sound angry here, or like I want to omit what you enjoy from you. I just believe that there is room for more difference in the genre then we are seeing, which, in my mind is incredibly PvE centric.

      The game I’m actually looking forward to right now is Black Desert. Many rather interesting PvP mechanics that create a focus for that interest and create certain risk reward systems. Keep control with real zone benefits for guilds, a trade based system of transportation and thievery and a couple other bits… it’s exciting.
      One part is the karma system for PK but, with increasing levels, on death you drop greater/more important items. And that’s drop too, for others to pick up so it’s pretty much a bounty system right there. Also the the many village and towns are a place of prosperity, trade happens there, housing and many other parts and with increasing kharma the guards will notice and attack. I think that is an amazing way to create consequence while not exactly inhibiting such actions. There are so many other, more interesting and fairer ways to control and maintain PvP and it’s just a shame no one else has tried anything but PvP flagging and factions

      • Yeah Black Desert looks really interesting in that regard. I love how the city is so absolutely massive, I hope they use it all! There is so much potential for play in an urban environment, we don’t always have to go out into the wilderness to find adventure.

        I do agree with you that the PvE MMOs today are pretty heavily skewed towards the single player experience, and like you, I definitely think there is much potential for gameplay outside of the fantasy “Chosen One” heroic adventurer theme. In fact, I wrote a post about it! 😛

  3. I’ll have to disagree with Dahakha in a somewhat solid way: That the notion of “my playtime” as put forth is an illusion. I’m not suggesting that the goal of a game shouldn’t be having fun and enjoying yourself, but it’s dangerous to get to the sort of place where we’re making statements like “I’ve lost control of my character” or “This isn’t what I want to be doing with my playtime”.

    Why? Because that’s the same sort of attitude that leads to the loudest minority voices having a big effect on the direction of a game. It has nothing to do with anything other than this willful disregard for the fact that we’re all sharing this world, not at the center of it.

    And certainly the conventions of “No, you’re REALLY the one true hero!” we’ve been seeing can’t help things. But in the end, we’re signing up for a world that is shared from the beginning. I’m no extremist, and I generally dislike the free-for-all approach in concrete favor of a system that allows for consent and co-existence.

    In many ways I’m a little surprised this topic has generated so many ideas, because we have a clearly fair base answer in front of us (and have for years and years) in the form of open-world, flagged PvP. I can’t think of a better win-win than a system where you can flag for PvP if you want PvP, or stay un-flagged and avoid it altogether. Many more recent games have lacked even the “WoW standard” approach.

    • you know, in the end I couldn’t care less about population numbers.. majority or minority. just create interesting and engaging systems with perhaps more consequnce to actions. It’s funny how a lot of players, and even developers seem to hate gankers and griefers and yet they always avoid any sense of meaningful punishment… to omit them from the same level of content as the rest.
      I kind of hate that trope as well, it’s created a more self entitled view of a players game space than it really should in a genre that is about interaction and being a part of a greater thing.

      I do want to see more than simple flagging.. just so over games putting in the absolute minimum and calling it complete. That’s equal to copy pasting a wiki article and calling it an honours thesis.

    • “…the notion of “my playtime” as put forth is an illusion”

      What? How….? What?
      If I am playing a game with OWP in a PvE environment, and all I want to do is the PvE content, then my playtime is being interrupted by some random player coming in and initiating PvP. When there is no purpose to that PvP beyond brief entertainment for the initiator, that is bad design. I know quite a few people from WoW who are die-hard PvE-only players, and most definitely look at OWP as undesirable. If they have no choice (as in one of the daily quest hubs in SWTOR) but to open themselves up to OWP in order to do PvE content, they are likely to avoid that content altogether as it risks being a waste of their time.

      “It has nothing to do with anything other than this willful disregard for the fact that we’re all sharing this world, not at the center of it.”

      You can share the world in ways other than OWP. And in a game like WoW, that is designed and marketed as a PvE game, OWP is a bad addition. It does nothing to add to the core experience, and it allows, even encourages, other players to have a destructive impact on that experience.

      • The problem is that your argument comes down to “I don’t like it for my experience” and that activity that exists within the structure of the game is something you argue shouldn’t be in the structure of the game. That’s all well and fine, until you come across games that do mix PvE and PvP at which point you still want it to have 0% impact on your play. I understand that completely, and I’m not arguing that games are “better” when players are griefing each other.

        But it shows in your statement that “WoW [is] is designed and marketed as a PvE game” that this is personal preference bias. I’d agree that PvE is the larger focus of the outward image, Blizzard considers PvP to be important as well. Since WoW isn’t zero-sum, both PvE and PvP content exists. Look at all the times a PvP balance has made PvE players extremely upset. This is the same sort of logic that then says that balancing PvP can’t effect PvE and then PvP becomes an absolute mess. Even if PvP were completely separate from PvE, the issue of balance changes is something that can cross that isle anyway.

        I guess in the end I try to land on the side of “what makes the world live and breathe” as opposed to a hardened focus on progression, grind or even most balance issues. If PvP exists in a game, then it’s an aspect of that game regardless of if you participate. FFA PvP is far from either a requirement or a preference (I dislike FFA mechanics greatly), but that just means I don’t play FFA games, really. If one hooked me, I’d reevaluate if I really disliked FFA or if it was something else. In the same vein, it comes down to , what I think, is a somewhat important aspect of any online game: a level of certain competition.

        But in any case, if I could design a “dream” system it would probably include level-syncing (which is good for so many PvE stuffs, too) and a lot of effort put to prevent antagonistic behavior. No one wants to be camped-till-logout, but those days are pretty much over outside the sociopathic games like EVE and Darkfall. I think it possible to combine PvE and open PvP in a way that is positive and not overly negative, but that means approaching PvP from a perspective perhaps closer to “what if players doing PvP were basically unpredictable world bosses?” or the similar. When it comes to subjects like mob AI, I’m amazed a better effort hasn’t been made to transform “enemy players” into the goals and quests of a MMO. It’s a somewhat crazy idea, but with the sorts of technology we have it wouldn’t be out of the question.

        Of course, we’ll agree completely that there’s a line between healthy and unhealthy. I just think that the lack of PvP offerings lately have acted to hide the progress that PvP systems have made. People almost always snap into a frame of reference from 2005 because there aren’t too many examples even out there, aside from the extremes of EVE and Darkfall. Even EVE is “more bark than bite”. As someone who played EVE for good while and who is also a big carebear, the horror stories and awfulness that everyone hears isn’t at all what playing the game is like. Hell, the vast majority of players you come across in EVE are friendly, helpful and bear no ill will beyond their own advancement.

      • Level syncing would definitely be an interesting prospect for other mmo’s to try… Gw2 would have been the perfect place for it, would have been fun to have a real gvg open world system there.

        It’s funny as well with horror stories of communities as they are mostly exaggerated. In my play of Darkfall I actually met more helpful people throughout the world than i did those killing for the lulz

  4. Agreed on power differentials and lack of consequence. If your average gankable newbie had a good enough chance of turning the tables on an attacker, that attacker would pick and choose his battles more carefully, rather than just flex his e-peen for kicks.

    Locus of control is always important for not feeling helpless and discouraged to play. That zerg in WvW may outnumber us 5 to 1 but if we play smart, we can still frustate, delay, annoy and maybe even get small victories with traited superior arrow carts, chokepoints, supply traps to stalemate them, etc. Chances are the disadvantage is still on us with supply lines cut, but it’s not just “oh, there’s no chance, nothing we can do.”

    When I used to play TFC, teams could sometimes be stacked to the point of unfairness, but even if my best engineer/turret/dispenser ambush spots were foiled by damn good teamwork running together, I resorted to no-skill kamikaze EMP bombs. Sure I blew myself up along with whoever I could take out, tanking my kill/death ratio in the process, the pros quickly learned and just avoided and won the game anyway, but I didn’t have to surrender to the inevitable quietly. Losing those grenades in TF2… It just wasn’t the same anymore.

    Consent I think isn’t so much of an issue if you lay it out clearly that these maps are open for PvP, or that even your whole game is. Then folks can pick or choose if they even want to step in or pick up the game in the first place.

    But I refuse to play vertical progression MMO PvP where one covers up lack of skill or smarts with time spent grinding for stats, and where “oh you have to put in this amount of time being someone else’s bitch” before the playing field levels out and you can actually fight back and be a threat.

    • At the same time, that level capped player is always going to beat the lowbie, but the key (at least in terms of themepark, PvE games) is in the immediate consequence. If you can get ganked and then camped preventing you from playing, that’s a problem for a mainline MMO. But these days you can almost always release and respawn somewhere safe to lick your wounds.

      In my own vision, dying in PvP isn’t much different from dying to a mob out in the world. If PvP-focused players can be nudged in a way which supports their existence as one-of-many dangers in the world (and often a big danger), then it can flawlessly fit in.

      It’s funny, but FFA PvP games tend to often be more combat-adverse when compared to games that are primarily PvE. I suspect that’s because of the consequence, full-loot, anyone can attack methodology. In Darkfall, for instance, coming across another player is very often a game of cat-and-mouse without any combat. Compare that with the no-consequence PvP in PvE-focused games and in the latter you see behavior that is even less by any sort of ethical code. One is not better than the other, but it’s also not some separate, needs-to-be-isolated gameplay aspect.

    • yeh I’m very much over the exaggerated power differentials between levels and such.. it’s stupid when there’s any sort of PvP. To me, it makes it almost meaningless as the outcome is already pre determined. we need to see gear and stats in general mean less, we need to lax if not remove level restrictions across mmo’s and mostly we just need to make them more open.

      The thing with consent, even when a server is labelled us such people still tout that as some sort of undeniable part of PvP. Like you always have to have it pre arranged, or should be able to opt out at any time which I don’t see. Servers are different every but usually, PvP means watch out. I agree that you still need to try and create that Locus of control though and at this point in time I believe it mostly has to be re-educated into the population.

  5. Pingback: The Consequences of PvP in a PvE Environment | Star-Fired Beef
  6. One thing that rarely gets discussed on Blogs about PvP but used to be common parlance in chat channels and guilds that I’ve been part of is that PvP is quite simply morally wrong. Back when I began playing Everquest there was a verbally active and numerically significant faction of players who quite simply believed that simulated physical conflict with another human being was morally equivalent to actual physical conflict.

    This sometimes came with a religious gloss and indeed would, I think, be supported by the teachings of some religions, possibly including the one in which I was brought up. More often it was a more straightforward humanistic “do no harm” principle, in which, since you cannot know what effect your actions will have on another human being in this context you should not undertake them.

    People expressing these opinions and beliefs didn’t generally object to consensual PvP (battlegrounds, PvP ruleset servers, flagging) although some did object to the very concept. Often, however, you would hear the position given that even if you, yourself, enjoy PvP and are willing to take the risks, it is not morally acceptable to participate even consensually in a fashion that could cause distress to others.

    If that last sounds a little abstruse, I saw the consequences often in an MMO that uses flagging, Rift. Flagging there used to be quite unintuitive and it was possible for someone to become flagged for PvP by healing someone who was flagged for PvP while both players were engaging only in PvE, resulting in the non-consensual player being attacked by a third, flagged player who spotted them. Happened over and over again, especially during Invasions in Stillmoor.

    I don’t raise any of this to express a particular alliance with any of these views or attitudes, only to point out that the whole issue is far, far more complex (and potentially hazardous) than it’s usually given credit for being. Personally, I like PvP when I’m in the mood and the days when it scared or upset me are long gone (although it can still give me an unpleasant start now and again if I’m not expecting it). If I was making a PvE-focused MMO, however, I’d steer very well clear of open-world PvP, even flagged. The potential downsides seem to heavily outweigh any possible benefits.

    • There’s always going to extremes on both sides and while I think each has it’s own merits it something to be a bit more skeptical of. The funny thing with your Rfit circumstance is that Tera had the opposite, healing a fllagged person wouldn’t flag you either and it was strongly abused, in GvG battles as well. I witnessed a lot of those types of things in Rift, hell we took advantage of it sometimes but I think the issue there is that people no longer pay that much attention to their actions. Healing an outlaw itself is some sort of moral choice.

      OH and yes, it’s definitely far more complex a situation than i am aware of. The thing is, I don’t think we will find anything better if we always stick to the same thing. And looking at PvE based mmo’s at the moment it’s hard not to wish for more, the same rinse, repeat cycle is nothing to be that proud of. I just want to see more than that and I think PvP is a part of that.

      • I think we’re 100% on the same page on this one. There’s so much pushback against PvP because of the symptoms which show when you look at only PvP. However, the underlying cause has been the constant removal of game-aspects from the world to be placed behind walls and partitions. Of course PvP sucks when PvE is leveraged as some eternal, godlike pursuit and you’re traveling your on-rails path from quest-to-quest being handed everything you need every step of the way. When the only worthwhile thing to do in the world is complete quests, you can bet that anything other than quest completion becomes seen as a a disruption. PvP was dynamic and interesting when it broke up grinding or when it meant that it pushed you into an area you hadn’t explored yet because it doesn’t require an NPC dangling quest rewards in front of your face to see what’s over that seemingly desolate hill.

  7. @bhagphus: Loved that angle. You’re right, we rarely hear about the simple moral reasoning behind PvP. Players don’t like to talk about things that aren’t pure entertainment and I find they tend to resent any line of reasoning which would call their character into question. Still, I think you point out something important that some players *do* talk about: what kind of player wants to cause distress to another player? And why does anyone want to justify this? Almost no one is discussing this because these are really hard questions and they get thrown by the way side as “extremes” with the reasoning that “extremes” are always safe to ignore in favor of more “practical” reasons.

    “I think most people conflate random acts of PvP immediately with the term griefing and that’s certainly not the same act. Often the act isn’t even about you, the target in the slightest but more just someone egaging in some content by rules defined by the server. ”

    @j3w3l: and this leads directly as a counterpoint to what you said. No one is conflating griefing and PvP. Instead, you ought to ask yourself whether there is actually a difference (open world PvP, not battlegrounds or MOBAs, etc). I dont see anyone here actually exploring if theres a difference, just many claims that these two thing are clearly different.

    I already know what you think of griefing/ganking and I see what you’re getting at by saying players are calling everything griefing. Here’s the thing: don’t those players have a point? If they are being bothered by another player and they don’t want to be, how is this NOT griefing?

    In other words, theres a principle here that we’re all applying through exceptionalism, saying it applies here, not there, its not always true, only when we *feel* it should be. The only way to find out is the look at the evidence.

    @L4Playtime observes that games dont always opt for the flagging option. Bhags and j3w3l explain its got its own issues. Yet the fact that it cant be employed is precisely the reason it shouldnt: Players do not want to be flagged and we know this by the percentage who participate — even on PvP servers. Players want full control over whether they engage in PvP. And this is why battlegrounds continue to be the preferred mode of combat. An extremely tiny, ever shrinking, minority likes OWP. Devs are changing their games because they have observed this as well.

    And proponents of the feature then lash out and make statements like “the carebears are ruining an otherwise perfect game” and similar statements. They dont acknowledge that most players like fair games and OWP is inherently unfair. Thats the simple truth of the matter.

    I would love to respond to every point in this comment section but maybe another day 🙂

    • Well, why would you bring a persons personal character into the discussion, doesn’t seem relevant. It would be equal to calling everyone that enjoys PvE exculsively a lazy spoilt brat everyone time you bring up the subject. Is this your own bias that equates some sort of morality behind the reasoning of PvP actions, would you bring in this reasoning when exploring a dungeon , or taking on a raid boss.

      To me it’s the same thing, just different styles of gameplay. We don”t think about distress, we don’t discuss in sowing circles the feeling of someone we just killed. We might laugh at their quick death, or give a nod to their valiant efforts but the emotional impact is rarely, if ever a opart of the conversation. Personally i have no idea why, and I’m going to say people like you because i assume that’s where it’s coming from, believe in such things in the first place.

      Personally I don’t see there to be a difference between griefing and just the regular pvp that happens.. but not in a bad way. It’s all just PvP, it’s all just more content. Why does it need any sort of justification in this instance. This is me though, and I understand that riding on the more hardcore side and am in favour of adding more consequence to such actions but leave the flagging mechanics to the pve servers pls

      • Im a firm believer that who you are online is who you are. Yes, I think my actions in a game represent the real me, ESPECIALLY with how I treat other people. Its one thing to have a fantasy about slaying a dragon, which we can reason is a desire to be a hero and which affects no one but me. It’s a totally different thing to treat another player with contempt just so you can get a laugh. It says something about that person. Having a fantasy in which I am acting something out which only affects me, is one thing. Doing it and distressing someone else is totally another. We arent pixels. We’re people.

        I know of hardcore PvPers who get their combat fix without distressing other players. They recognize there’s a clear difference between mutual combat and non-mutual. They understand that it’s not cool to distress someone who clearly doesnt want to be bothered with you. I’ve met stand-up players in Eve who, upon realizing they podded a total newbie (whether that person just didnt understand the game or literally just logged in ), turned around helped that player and mentored them to a point where they could fight back. These players manage to enjoy PvP to INCLUDE others, not to spite others. I’ve seen entire corporations of such hardcore PvPers throughout Eve who manage to game ethically. I only see defenses of this kind of PvP by people who participate — and they are such a small and shrinking minority that it seems most players understand that fair gameplay is important. Most OWP games do not offer fair play (Eve included).

        Your arguments work in no other context 🙂 And that to me is very surprising because I’ve seen you agree on the principle I’m applying here in other topics.

        Theres no activity or community in the world where treating a fellow player like we do in our MMOs is considered a good, legit, and fair thing. I can’t even think of a sport that would condone it (as a matter of “gaming”) nor any other circumstance where I would tell someone that if they enter I can treat them how I want, and they consent to it by being in that space. I go back to the analogy of the store. Entering does not obligate me to buy a single thing, let alone everything. When I login to a game with PvP I’m not consenting to unlimited, unwanted combat, but I explained this in my post so I wont repeat here (this comment is long enough).

        But youre still L33t J3w3l and I dont take offense that you like PvP. I just dont agree at all that players who are griefed deserve it because they are relinquishing control or otherwise blaming one player for the behavior of another. I actually really enjoy PvP. But I think most designers completely fail at making it an engaging experience and fair games are important to me. I think the fact that most players, even hardcore pvpers, rarely engage in PvP is all the evidence I need to draw this conclusion. OWP is not fair and players know it. Thats why we always frame our actions in games in terms of fairness (even you just did it by saying that all pvp on a pvp server is FAIR).

        I invite you to Eve online if you’re interested. It’s an excellent game for OWP, and even though it has its flaws its still the best executed OWP world I know of. There’s sociopaths, but there are also LOTS of decent human beings in that game who know how to enjoy combat without distressing another player.

      • you’re still attributing some sort of moral, or emotional reason to the action. In my mind this is a game, pixels and all that and attacking a player isn’t the same as me attacking them personally. Of course it is different, I’m not saying it’s exactly the same thing but it is looked at as legitimate content. Of course there are some that go out of there way to be assholes but then, I’ve seen plenty of that type who just PvE. It’s a problem unconnected to the content you enjoy and more related to the lack of consequence and that there is no long lasting reputation to be gained.

        You’re shop analogy is a little wrong too, sure going in somewhere doesn’t mean that you have to buy everything but it does mean you have to abide by the rules and guidelines of the shop. Dress code, behaviour and other such elements. That’s the same with PvP serves, it’s a guideline of be careful and be aware.

        You are right that most developers fail to make an engaging experience, that is a keypoint in discussions of PvP griefing. When players get bored that’s what they generally turn to to provide amusement for themselves.

        Eve definitely does a lot of things right and while it does get painted as the playground for Pricks it has many really supportive elements. This is the light and dark of the PvP community really and that’s hat I like about it. It can be very community orientated, far more than the usual dungeon crawler as well. I have been there and tried it. Been podded a few times as a noob and kept coming back. But, the whole spaceship thing, controls and combat just dodn’t interest me enough to subscribe. Perhaps I should go back and give it more of a try. AT this stage of MMO’s though I’m more waiting for the next big thing.. yes, kind of stupid but it’s about time we had a new eve. An avatar based one maybe or at least one that’s a little more modern. PLus with MMO’s I kind of like getting in at the beginning.

      • The shop analogy was only meant to illustrate consent and fairness, not rules. It’s not about rules, especially since there is no rule on a Pvp server that you must accept every provocation and invitation to battle. Just as a player can accept it, they can also reject it. PvP is an option, just like raiding on PvE servers, just like crafting – an opportunity. It’s not a rule, so your interpretation of the analogy is somewhat off the mark.

        Walking into a store does not come with the obligation to buy anything, in the same way that rolling on a PvP server is not an obligation to PvP. Being in the store doesn’t mean you consent to buying or to being harassed by salesmen (which no company would even advocate or defend). You’re perfectly free to walk around and browse at products, try them out (dressing rooms), and socialize with other customers without expectation that you owe the store some money. You’re arguing that my presence on a PvP server is consent. I’m arguing it’s not 🙂 Shop owners do not have consent to charge me for products in the store just because Im there (ergo, Im not obligated to buy anything – its an option).

      • that whole shop analogy seems rather silly to begin with and really doesn’t shift over ell to gaming spaces. Mine would more be a gladitrial arena, sure by entering you don’t have to actively engage in killing but by being there, one way or another it’s going to happen.

        My point with these posts, and the ones that are coming is to say that with a diverse would, full of options, reasons, meaning and such as well as an overarching economy that pvp is just part of the equation. it’s a place where people could mostly abstain from it or even get others to do that dirty work for them. It’s a place of consequence wherein random PvP does have a reason beyond being solely for the lulz and it’s about creating a world where there is more balance in combat between the haves and have nots.

        In this situation those random ganks, while frustrating I don’t think could turn away players in the way that it does in these pve focused games. And anyway, in those games people do have the option, PvE or PvP servers. if you want consent then obviously pvp servers aren’t for you

  8. Pingback: Weekly Round-Up #3 | The Newbie Blogger Initiative
  9. Late to the party, but I would like to add that I agree with almost everything J3w3l says about PvP, and disagree with almost everything that Doone says. No surprises there, we’ve had this argument before on a different blog about a year ago. That comment about all EVE players being sociopaths is very Gevlonesque, and is on par with Gevlon’s declaration that all WoW players are “morons and slackers.” I know many good people I respect in real life who enjoy EVE, and who have made meaningful contributions to the lives of others outside of the ephemeral world of computer games. It’s hard not to take it as a slight against them when Doone makes sweeping comments like that. But you can call me a sociopath – I’ve been called worse. I’m also a power fantasist as well, apparently. It’s good to see that smack talk is alive and well on the PvE side of the aisle, too. The only difference is that PvErs (bloggers in particular) use prettier language.

    The shop analogy completely fails for me, too, for reasons already articulated by J3w3l. For me, playing on a PvP server, flagging for PvP or playing a PvP-centric game constitutes a waiver similar to that used in law, in which parties voluntarily relinquish or surrender a known right or privilege. In the case of MMOs I agree that everyone is entitled to spend their own time as they see fit, except when they relinquish this right by enabling PvP. To extend Doone’s shop analogy, imagine you have the choice of shopping at two different shops. Both stock the same range of goods, and offer the same services which you can pick and choose at your leisure. One is in a safe part of town, where you can shop in total safety. The other is in a red light district frequented by muggers, thieves and anti-social types. If you decide to go to the latter and get mugged EVEN though you had the choice to opt out, then whose fault is that?

    There is a place for morality in gaming – I don’t disagree with Doone there. But clearly our boundaries differ dramatically. I’d take great offence at clan mates and guildies who use racist, sexist and abusive language, but would have no problem with the same people constantly ganking the enemy over and over again. I think condemning people on moral grounds for complying with the rule set is nonsensical. It’s like debating the ethics of capturing a pawn in chess.

    Anyway, great post J3w3l, it’s nice to see some PvPers in this particular blogsphere. I finally stabilised my TESO client, and am loving the war in Cyrodiil. That game does OWP right in my book, and it’s starting to develop its own meta which I will start writing about in the future. Have had some epic fights now, some small squad level PvP, and even did some *gasp* solo ganking.

    • Thanks for the comment, was starting to think I’m this lone wolf howling at the moon here. Just like Pve players are diverse in their interests, ideas, content, time and even behaviour so are PvP players. Making such generalisations just seems sill in regards to any player. And yes, I’ve been called worse to haha, especially after a few ganks =p

      I hate this analogy but will continue, when going to the more dangerous shop it’s then up to you to mitigate such issues, and there are many ways to do that. Just going with a few friends would be enough to deter all but the most determined thief. If you decide to go yet make no arrangements then that is your fault.. now I’m making thes based on game circumstances, such things in real life would be abhorrent.. that’s why the analogy just doesn’t work.

      And yes, talking about morality within games is an important part, I’ve discussed many of these elements before with how games are developed and the behaviour of players but yeh, following along with the designed ruleset is not comparable to problems of personal harassment, of rape threats and homophobia.

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