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.