Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
 
A chicken problem

Tentonhammer has a brilliant video showing Paul Barnett talking about the design of the chicken system. This is an anti-ganking feature in Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, in which you are turned into a chicken if you enter a RvR area which is far too low for your level. As I still have bad memories of being one-shotted by high-level archers in Dark Age of Camelot the first time I entered the lowest level PvP zone, I can only applaud the chicken idea. Regardless of the size of the feathers. (You need to see the video to understand that one.)

But Keen and Graev thought a bit deeper about this feature, and came up with a conundrum: WAR has two kinds of servers (plus RP versions), and the chicken feature seems to be designed for the standard core ruleset, where your RvR flag only goes on when you enter a RvR area. But how will the chicken feature work on the open RvR ruleset servers, where your flag is always on? Basically there are two equally bad possibilities: Either you are only turned into a chicken if you set foot in a designated low-level RvR area, or you are turned into a chicken whenever you set foot in any low-level area. If the chicken flag only works in the areas marked as RvR, we get the crazy situation that a high-level character can gank people who are in PvE areas, but not those in RvR areas, and thus RvR areas are actually safer than non-RvR areas. If the chicken flag works everywhere, a high-level player can't enter low-level areas at all any more, and is thus prevented from helping low-level friends, or from completing tome unlocks he missed on his way up. The way I would solve this is to turn people into chickens only if they actually attacked another player in a non-RvR area. I hope Mythic has thought this through.

Not that it is going to affect me, because I'm certainly not going to play on a open RvR ruleset server. I like the idea of being able to choose whether I want to do PvP or not. All the good PvP will also exist on the core ruleset "carebear" servers, only the bad PvP ganking is limited to the open RvR ruleset. There isn't a chicken solution against people that stab you in the back while you fight a monster, or who jump you when you are alone and they brought several friends. Syncaine thinks that WAR has good PvP as opposed to the bad PvP of other games. I think that good PvP is defined by both sides having a chance to win, and bad PvP is one side massacring the other side. Both forms can exist in the same game. And as players aren't necessarily nice, fair, and noble, especially not online, you can only have good PvP if you have restricted PvP. Chickens are part of that, but you also need the restriction of making PvP consentual. Non-consentual PvP will always end up being more bad than good, because there are just too many jerks.
Comments:
I suspect that the open RvR servers will have a severely restricted chicken mechanic, if it exists at all. Probably it will only exist in the Tier 1 zones to give newbies a chance to find their feet before the ganking fun begins.
 
"Non-consentual PvP will always end up being more bad than good, because there are just too many jerks."

Your premise is wrong. A lot of people actually wants an open (FFA) ruleset where you can get killed at all time by higher level groups or whatever (and do it yourself). Just look at the PvE vs PvP population in AoC.

I'm not saying that everyone enjoys it and thats fair. But those who do not like this type of ruleset almost always assumes that noone does.

It is clear that a PvP ruleset that appeals to everybody cannot be created. I think there needs to be a third type of ruleset which lies between PvE and (True FFA) PvP.
 
This is majorly stupid. I'm not a fan of ganking. I play WoW on PvP server. I've been ganked hundreds of times through out my five level 70's. I don't enjoy ganking, but I do enjoy logging onto my main to help out guildies who are being ganked.

Gaining level is supposed to make your character stronger. I don't think you should be turned into a chicken because you set foot in a lowbie area.

If there is already seperate servers for carebears then why have this feature also?
 
anonymous said: Just look at the PvE vs PvP population in AoC.
That's the problem though. The population of AOC is very low(Gameriot estimated it at 70,000 back in June, see ttp://wowriot.gameriot.com/blogs/Epidemic-Obesity/Age-of-Conan-Desperate-for-Subscribers/). Let's be generous and assume that all of those 70K are on FFA PvP servers and enjoy that play style.

In one sense, of course, 70K is "a lot of people": it's a reasonable sized town. But as a percentage of the total world MMORPG population, it's tiny. MMOGChart estimates the toal MMO active subscriptions as about 16M, so that makes it about 0.4%. The remaining 99.6% may disagree.
 
Your premise is wrong. A lot of people actually wants an open (FFA) ruleset where you can get killed at all time by higher level groups or whatever (and do it yourself).

No. Only a small, but vocal, minority of people want a FFA ruleset. PvP games have consistently fared worse in the market than games where you can't be killed anytime anywhere. And when Ultima Online introduced Trammel and suddenly allowed people to move away from PvP, well over 90% of them did.

The fact that there are a few masochists doesn't make painful gameplay a viable commercial venture. The large majority of players doesn't want to be ganked.
 
For me, the problem with consentual PvP is that it makes the non-PvE experience much less exciting. There's no sense of danger, no thrill of the hunt, no imperative to be on your guard, no room for aggression. The supposedly war-torn and dangerous world feels static and fake in the absence of hostile player activity. Ultimately, consentual PvP is really just PvP for PvE players.

I agree with Tobold that "good PvP is defined by both sides having a chance to win". However, I don't think that consentual PvP is the only way to ensure that. I do think, however, that a superior PvP game is completely incompatible with "traditional" character leveling/gear mechanics that WoW, AoC, and WAR all share, since they provide extreme unfair advantage of some players over others.

My recepie for a great PvP experience is as follows:

1. PvP is the main object of the game. While PvE, crafting, exploration, and social elements may still exist, they are all peripheral to PvP.

2. Extremely horizontal character progression that expands a character's range of abilities and tactical options, not raw power. Progression is PvP-driven.

3. PvP is allowed anywhere that doesn't constitute an exploit. Spawn and newbie areas and such may still be protected.

4. Combat mechanics that put greater emphasis on surprise, taxctics, and pure chance over simply overpowering your enemy. The weakest character should still have a non-trivial chance of beating the strongest.

5. Strict limit on losses sustained on death/defeat. No corpse looting, no death penalty, free teleport to main hub/city if the player is unable to safely resurrect for any reason. Victory and progress derived thereof is the reward, not inflicting additional grief on the defeated. A small subset of powerful and/or vanity items that can be trasferred by looting them from defeated enemies could be fun to spice things up though.
 
@sven
You realized the author of the "WoWriot" post on subscribers had to retract his statements and this was totally made up data.
70k players at that time was not even close.
By that time in June 700k copies had been purchased and activated...so, the number was actually 700k at that time.
Now, it looks like 140-160k based on various sources (AoCdb.info and Xfire)

But, we may never know.

The truth of the matter is that the PvP servers, specifically the FFA servers were the most populated.
Of course, that population's IQ was a whole other story for another time.
I will take my "Carebear" please!
 
@openedge1

No, I wasn't aware of that. Thanks for the correction. I'm happy to go with 150K. Again, assuming that all the AoC players are on FFA servers, that still makes the numbers 0.8% for FFA and 99.2% elsewhere.

It's no surprise that the PvP oriented servers on a PvP focussed game were the most busy. People who don't want that won't play the game at all, hence the low subscriptions. What is interesting is how many people tried it (700K) compared to how many people stayed (150K). It seems many people like the sound of AoC PvP but don't like the reality.

The sad thing is, there was the making of a good game in there. I quite liked the beta at early levels, with lovely graphics and a good introductory area, but it faded so fast. If only someone could produce a game that combined Vanguard class design with AoC graphics (and the bugs of neither), I'd be a happy bunny.
 
And when Ultima Online introduced Trammel and suddenly allowed people to move away from PvP, well over 90% of them did.

10% or 1 out of 10 people is not irrelevant or just “a few masochists.” After all, 10% of 10 million is still 1 million. Also – UO had a lot more problems than just ganking, so the 90% is significantly higher than I think we would see in a less punishing game.
 
Mr. Gamer, I really like your criteria, and I would be happy to play such a game - but that doesn't look like an RPG anymore.

I think part of the problem is that a big part of what we feel to be the rules of the genre still owe a lot to mere tradition and the rules that were developed for pen and paper rpgs.

I would agree to Tobold that pvp and character progression don't mix well. These games always try to do both and end up being less than great at both pvp and pve.
 
this has the potential to make the game rather annoying if done wrong and not patched for months like most companies tend to do. (For those on Open Servers)
 
Brutal as it was, wandering around in pre-Trammel UO was pretty exiting sometimes. Especially when you encountered a well known killer..

I don't recall exactly when they implemented the 'red' punishment regulations, but this was the first step in getting grips on ganking (remember this was in a ffa, looting pvp world; only add perma-death and you have pure bliss :D ).

However i value(d) ffa pvp its a given, that mmo+ffapvp <> good business. And i too will probably roll on a core server, i just dont have the patience or time anymore to cope with virtual psychopaths.
 
@mr gamer

"For me, the problem with consentual PvP is that it makes the non-PvE experience much less exciting. There's no sense of danger, no thrill of the hunt, no imperative to be on your guard, no room for aggression. The supposedly war-torn and dangerous world feels static and fake in the absence of hostile player activity. Ultimately, consentual PvP is really just PvP for PvE players."

So couldn't you just run around with your PvP flag enabled? Or is it the ability to gank others who are weaker a bigger part of the thrill?
 
It doesn't matter what the peasants (majority in numbers) think Tobold.
 
I've played 20+ MMOs and the ONLY one I still play is Ultima Online. Sure, I get ganked all the time, and I do my fair share of the ganking; however, I'm having MUCH more fun than MMOs with umpteen thousand rules and regulations restricting PvP.

I don't understand why people want a perfect rule-set; everyone should just play the MMO / server that fits their style...

Siege Perilous for me, please!
(or Darktide if Siege is down) >=]
 
The lowest level pvp zone in DAoC? You mean the level 20-24 battleground? That would be like a level 10 complaining about being killed by the 19s in WSG.
 
Regarding non-consensual pvp I can see that you don't find any fun in it (and of course this is a blog of your personal opinions and experiences). But can you not see that a lot of us really enjoy it?

I'm generally a pve-er but I always pick non-consensual servers over. Sometimes I get unfairly ganked but more often than not explosions of player violence are an exciting and close-matched affair between 2 players of similar gear and level. You are after all at the same stage of quest progression to be in that area.

I admire a great deal of what you say but I think here, Tobold, you are saying non-consensual pvp is not fun because I don't find it fun. Despite the evidence to the contrary both anectodal and by virtue of the fact that roughly half of MMO players choose to play on non-consensual pvp servers.
 
"The fact that there are a few masochists doesn't make painful gameplay a viable commercial venture. The large majority of players doesn't want to be ganked."

Even though we're a minority we should be considered :)

My main point was that segmenting the MMO world into two categories (PvE and PvP) does not cater to everyone. We should recognize that there are at least one (albeit small) other group of players who are not being catered to.

I understand and respect why people would not play on a FFA PvP but rather on some kind of consentual PvP. But surely you must agree that there should be server types for all of us.

With respect to the comments about AoC. I think that there are two gorups.

Many people went there because they were bored with WoW. They will return to WoTLK or WAR.

Another big group was the old playesr of UO etc. who hoped for real open PvP. I think these are the people still hanging on, since it AoC is the best offering of this type of game at the moment. However some of these will probably go to WAR (no pun intended) if Funcom doesn't hurry and fix things.

I guess I will try out WAR, but in the end I will probalby return to EVE even though i like the fantasy setting better.
 
Tobold, I don't think FFA PvP fans are a minority as you claim. Roughly half of WoW players choose to play on PvP servers, for example, all ganking and balancing problems notwithstanding. Do you have any concrete data to back up your claim?
 
mr. gamer, do you have any data to back up your premise? Those WoW players on PVP servers could have all kinds of other reasons for being there - friends, PVE progression, ignorance, or even just the mild competency stigma attached to playing on "carebear" servers.

It certainly doesn't mean that 50% of the playerbase are all FFA PVP enthusiasts - only that those who aren't have decided, for whatever reason, to suck it up. Endurance ≠ endorsement.
 
Mr. Gamer, I have yet to hear from anyone saying he enjoyed Stranglethorn on a PvP server. PvP servers in WoW are semi-consentual, because many zones are either Alliance or Horde, with only few shared zones. So you can level quite a lot on a WoW PvP server without getting ganked.
 
l@Tobold:

I enjoyed STV PvP very much. Some of my fondest WoW memories are associated with PvP'ing there. So, count me as one. =P I suppose it comes down to whether you come there to fight or to quest. I came to fight.

On WoW PvP servers only the newbie (lev 1-20) zones
and cities are facton owned -- i.e. unilaterally consentual. The rest of the zones, which constutute the bulk of the game, are unconsentual FFA PvP. There's no way to avoid it unless you never level a character past level 20.

@anonymous
I don't buy the idea that a large chunk of players on WoW PvP servers are not into PvP. Some? Sure. Most? Definitely not. The game is old enough for everyone to have figured out what kind of server they want to be on. PvP->PvE transfers are available.

I'm trying to get a sense on what basis Tobold claims that most FFA PvP fans are only a small minority of the player base. Does he have any numbers to support it, or is it just his guess?

The bloggers and other active netizens seem to be pretty evenly divided in their preference. Actual server populations by ruleset are likewise pretty even.

WoW server data:
http://www.warcraftrealms.com/quickstats.php

AoC data:
http://classygamer.blogspot.com/2008/07/some-data-on-age-of-conan-european.html

Nick Yee's (Deadalus Project) server type preference census data is slightly tamer, but still shows about 1/3 of players preferring PvP servers:
http://www.nickyee.com/daedalus/archives/001466.php?page=1

Hardly just "a few masochists".

Yes, most people hate being ganked and griefed, but I think that has more to do with the highly vertical character progression mechanic causing most confrontations to be utterly one-sided than with players disliking FFA PvP in principle.
 
I have yet to hear from anyone saying he enjoyed Stranglethorn on a PvP server.

**Raises Hand** Open world PvP is both frustrating and exhilarating. It’s exhilarating in that the world is not exactly a safe place. You can’t just grind a mob, you need to grind the mob and look over your shoulder. Also, as was pointed on a few blog entrys ago, World PvP is often about the brawl. Some of the most fun PvP that I have ever experienced in WoW happened spontaneously while I was questing or traveling. There is something incredibly fun about these unexpected epic battles that happen over a little piece of questing territory.

One thing about STV in particular though – it’s badly designed in that it spans 15 levels and most WoW zones only span 10. A level 30 toon and a level 45 toon shouldn’t have the similar reasons (questing) for visiting a particular zone. Even WAR’s chicken system wouldn’t really help since both toons are intended to be in the zone.
 
people like PvP in different degrees. Sure around half of WoW players may like non consensual PvP, but how many would continue to like it if the enemy could loot all your stuff? Even if players were more equal as in UO?
The only damage to you in WoW is in pride and a corpse run or five.
As I recall it wasn't that hard to get pretty good armor in UO since even Journeyman blacksmiths could make exceptional armor, but even then I don't think I'd like the risk of losing it every time some guy shoots me in the back while I'm fighting something.
 
Count me as someone else who enjoyed questing in STV on a PVP server. It was the only way a horrendously boring zone was made exciting.

Despite the fact that "I hate non-consentual PvP" has become your mantra, Tobold, there are really a lot of folks who enjoy it. Artificial, arbitrary game mechanics like the "Chicken Rule" are silly in a game that's being billed as PvP-friendly.
 
Mr. Gamer, I have yet to hear from anyone saying he enjoyed Stranglethorn on a PvP server

Count me in as a big fan of how this zone turned out

I rarely went looking for trouble but I've had many exciting spontaneous fights here in the course of levelling my various characters. Exactly what a pvp server levelling zone should be like in my opinion.
 
[Syncaine and Tobold have both had discussions lately about what constitutes “good” PvP and a couple of ideas keep popping up. Balance and Consensual PvP. The context of most arguments about what makes PvP fun (or not fun) revolve around either the idea that is imbalanced or it’s simply not consensual. To illustrate this point, I created the following diagram...] (link to PvP matrix diagram)
 
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