Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Where is the PvP?

In all the discussion about Altdorf "fallen" (with everyone having a different definition of "fallen"), I failed to link to one of the most important blog posts on the subject: Saylah from Mystic Worlds asks the fundamental question about early morning raids of "Doesn’t that really just make it a PVE encounter at that point???"

Everyone says how Warhammer Online as a game is all about RvR / PvP, with players fighting other players. And then the endgame consists of first avoiding enemy players by attacking them when they sleep, and then a phase in which BY DESIGN the enemy players are locked out of their city, and the attackers play a big PvE raid public quest to kill NPC defenders and ultimately the king. So at best this is half-half PvP and PvE. And if you attack early enough it becomes 99% PvE. It's like playing WoW on a PvP server, where you might need to do a little PvP to get into the raid instance, but once you are in there, it's only PvE. So Emperor Karl Franz is still alive, and hasn't been beaten yet. But does that really matter if he is just a PvE raid boss? The attackers *did* finish the PvP part of the sequence to capture the enemy city. Anything after that only involves overcoming a completely arbitrary PvE boss fight.

So in the end WAR is a PvE game somehow involving the players of the other faction. But if people actually *wanted* to play PvP, they wouldn't plan early morning raids. Instead the attackers just want to win, and the easiest way to win is to PvE, not PvP. Makes you wonder if the game shouldn't be designed in a way that the fewer players are online, the stronger the NPC defences of the cities are, so attacking during prime time would actually be *easier* than attacking in the early morning.
A very good point.

I would have assumed that while your "mercenaries" slept, you would triple or quadruple your normal guards.
Maybe when a keep is owned by a guild they could hire extra guards to defend it between certain hours?
RVR in WAR means 2 oposing factions fighting for the same PVE objective. It was clear from the start. Lack of PVP is a result of bad implementation.
Pure pvp is scenarios, with artificially balanced sides.

Open RvR pretty much requires NPCs to balance the sides, as constantly losing to larger, and better organised, sides would be both unfun and unrewarding. In a campaign, you naturally retreat to the point where your sides NPCs provide sufficient support to make things a fair/fun fight.

PC power and tactics are constantly increasing, NPCs are unchanging, absent balancing patches. So the current situation where NPCs are the main defence, rather than a reinforcement, won't last long.

WoW is, at high end, a game of guilds versus developers (i.e. scripted raids). The advantage is only one side needs to be kept happy: the other gets paid. The disadvantage is casual players are mentioned nowhere.

WaR will, I think, shape up to be a game of organised guild versus zerg. There are no real incentives for two high end guild to fight, and zerg versus zerg will always have no clear outcome unless there is massive population inbalance. The tricky bit will be making that fun and rewarding for both parties.
WAR is a game caught between two designs.

The original design: tons of instanced (and balanced) RvR content.

The updated design: open world RvR to unlock the heavily instanced capital cities, which by its nature is unpredictable and ripe for the AM zerg to pick.

Mythic has not done a great job meshing the two together. It will start by nerfing Scenarios to some degree. Then, the open world RvR might actually mean something.

Right now, in 12 hours time, a city can go from GOOD to CONTESTED and all the way back to GOOD. Basically, there is no incentive to defend, because it won't be hurting you that much. Especially if scenarios are wide open for grinding Renown Ranks.
Also keep in mind that a) most people playing WAR are coming from games with little to no PvP and habits are hard to break, and b) when trying something for the first time or learning new content, people often desire to limit as many unknown factors as possible. In the case of WAR the most variable unknown factor is the other players. I think that once a guild/alliance manages to really conquer a city and they know the PvE elements of the content (and the spoiler sites begin filling up with raid strats on them) you'll see them begin to slide those raids into prime time.

Essentially, WARs city raids will consist of two "firsts" for servers/guilds. 1) Can you conquer an undefended city and beat the PvE? 2) Can you conquer a defended city, beating the PvE and PvP?
Noone plays PvP to have fun fighting. The initial novelty wears off and afterwards it only depends on goals one can set for himself. It is naive to think that human nature will change while playing computer game.

There are three possible PvP objectives to reach in WAR:
1) earn equipment
2) be a renown PvPer
3) do a server first PvP objective

Joining RvR fray day after day and having exactly zero chance of reaching objective is stupid and no sane person can expect that people will do it for prolonged period of time. Grinding equipment is a threadmill but it gives sense of accomplishment and thus people will do it. Being renown PvPer is not possible - there are no ladders or such, noone cares who they fight against in grindfest so setting such goal is also quite stupid.

As you can see, someone targeted the third option recently. Since trying to capture zillion of places during day is basically impossible, noone sane is going to do it this way. 3am raid is much easier to organize.

Remember it - noone fights "for the fun". Everyone fights for an objective. Be it fame, eq, xp... in some games you can aim for denying everyone xp area, capturing someone's keep, slowing down enemy's raid, having better kill/death ratio than someone else, there are many goals to be set. But if the game is not sandbox, you are usually set against unknown enemy whose face you don't know and the goals you can aim for tend to be "pointless" and not fulfilling. In RvR, there is only so much you can do.
"Remember it - noone fights "for the fun". "

Speak for yourself.

I don't find any of the goals you mentioned fun, so why am I playing?

The fun for me is the journey, which is fighting in WAR.

RvR has always meant PvE and PvP to reach an end goal.
Good idea!

Sounds like the end game needs a little tweaking/re-balancing. (I'd argue that a lot of the PvP needs some re-balancing, but that's another topic.)
...and I will concur with Werit, I mostly "PvP for fun". The xp and rewards are nice side benefits, but I mostly enjoy the scenarios. If I didn't, then I probably wouldn't be playing WAR.
I agree with Werit and Sumdumguy, as I'm sure will Saylah. Click Here to read about her 7h40m WSG match.
Oh my, linked by Tobold. Thanks. :-)

I think it's a complete falsehood to believe that people don't PVP to fight other players. When the incentive is there to fight each other they will and do. The problem becomes game designs that reward based on collective outcomes, like WOW's requirement to collect quantities of marks from each BG. that's where they went wrong or IMO borked the combat.

Even so, here's an example of people who came to PVP servers to PVP before Blizzard messed it up and killed world PVP with all those BGs and then Arenas. I got into a bugged WSG several months ago that lasted 7 hours!! That's right, 7 hours and no honor being gained and no way to win but people stayed to duked it out old school style...

The imbalance of Order vs. Destruction is a reflection of how the classes, factions and lore are portrayed, and even implemented. Then marketing hype comes in an unbalances it some more. Destruction isn't better. Order isn't stupid. People don't roll on PVP servers to avoid PVP. Players avoid if when the incentives encourage that behavior.
RvR has always meant PvE and PvP to reach an end goal.

But isn't that similar to what natris said? I don't think he meant to not have fun, but rather people will pursue goals, and those goals are affected by the incentives offered.

I like to think I play "only" for fun too, but then I imagine, what if I get nothing accomplished? Just run headlong into battle over and over, and don't get anything for it, how long would I keep it up? I might have fun in the beginning, but eventually I would need goals or lose direction and turn to something else.

In WAR the main goal is capture the enemy city. That certainly will change player behavior. You don't get rewarded as much for only fighting other players, so while that's fun, most people won't put "fighting other players" as their main goal. Maybe right now when it's still a new experience, but I can't imagine after 5 months that fighting other players alone - with no purpose - will be new and exciting still. So we'll make up purposes, and those purposes, or goals, will be based on the incentives Mythic offers.

In an fps game you might be able to track statistics on how well you are doing, you make up goals for yourself. Those goals keep you going, even though in the end there's no overarching goal of the game.

People tend to follow the incentives. Of course you're having fun too.
I agree with some others above: i DO fight "for the fun". And even the constant back and fort of somewhat disorganized zergs has appeal to some (me): best time i had in WOW was in the original TM and later in the original AV (with epic battles lasting up to a few days). Some people just dont get enough from sparring with other players, even it yields not much of "value" or "importance" (quoted since were talking about a game here). Now if that group is sufficiently large, WARs future looks good. Even if all that PVP *eventually* leads to a PVE encounter.
The most fun I ever had in WoW's PvP was a time early on when my first guild took and held (as much as we could) The Sepulcher from the Horde. We were there fighting for 3 hours or so, no honor gained, no levels gained, no gear, no nothing.

Just the fun of the fight.

Like Saylah said, it's not that people don't want to fight for fun. It's when you give them a path of least resistance that doesn't involve fighting at all that becomes a problem.

There needs to be a longer lock-out time when a city falls (12 hours is nearly inconsequential), and there needs to be a disincentive for zerging the enemy when they majority are sleeping.

i bought LOTRO because of your blog review / opinion. (loved it btw)

hows LOTRO crafting vs WHO crafting vs WOW crafting stack up ?
yunkndatwunk understood it correctly and described it much more clearly than I was able.

I reacted like this because Tobold said in his blog that "But if people actually *wanted* to play PvP, they wouldn't plan early morning raids.".

But there are people, which are often called "powergamers" who like to set challenging goals and go after them with all their skill and focus. These are the "World first"/"server first" PvE raiders,top 100 in arena duels etc. And there is only a few goals for them aside from "fun by just PvPing".

These people know that if they attempt to conquer the capital, due to design of the game during day their relatively small numbers will be drowned under hordes of suiciding lemmings, and thereby they pick the most efficient way how to reach their objective.

But what should they do when there is basically nothing to be done in this game that is not "pointless"? They pick "impossible" goal and make it possible via doing 3am raid. Although it is not much fun, they still feel accomplished.

Mark my words, in few months WAR will quickly decline due to many facts that Tobold described (public quests problems etc.) but also because RvR as endgame goal is completely pointless. Not for those who have just started with MMOs, but those who have "powergamer" attitude and play them for some time tend to realize it sooner and later.
I think the idea of city NPC strength being inversely proportional to the number of PC defenders available is a great idea.

If you're worried about it from a lore point of view, the NPC guards are off-shift when the players on on-shift. It still seems a little silly, but for gameplay it's sound.

There would be two main hurdles though - how to measure PC defender strength, and how to prevent exploitation by defenders (i.e., "they're coming to take the city, everybody log off!").
your very last point is a very good one, IMO
Guess you never played DAOC. Off-hours relic raids were the norm. Its not as if Mythic doesn't have experience in this.
I might point out, that night time attacks are definitely a kind of PvP. Strategic match ups are not always about hitting the enemy where they are strongest for a challenge (unless you follow a strong code of chivalry in which your only desire is to be in the van against the largest opposing force possible) but rather, out maneuvering your enemy. You do this in several way, once of which is the time of day in which you attack.

Strategy is about stacking the advantages of terrain, numbers, troop types, time of day etc. so they are in your advantage.

Now, I would be very interrested if night fighting issues were to be developed in future games of this sort, as they came up in the old days and still do now in which lower visibility can often be as much a hindrance as it can be an advantage.

Still, the PvP is definitely happening, it is just happening at the strategic level in this case, and not the tactical one.

Me, I am chivalrous at heart, and prefer charging head first into the thickest of the enemy, but that does not mean I discount the strategic value of a good night raid, bushment, early morning intaking, etc. War has never been about a completely even playing field, even at its most formal. I don't see why WAR should be much different.
WAR..uhh..what is it good for?
Absolutely nothing!

Where is your "impact PVP" now?

Getting boiled alive by burning oil is such great fun....the first time...

The end is nigh, only ONE can craft great wars.

Return ye wayward children!
As others have mentioned, people go after the greatest rewards, but they go for them by way of the least difficult route. What is the biggest prize? The Capital. What is easier, taking a city with NPC defenders and just a few odd Players or taking a city with NPC defenders and lots of Players? It is just simple strategy. Hit your enemy when they are the weakest. Yes there will eventually be those who try to take a city during prime time to see if they can but it will never be the norm. Water runs down hill and people take the path of least resistance. The problem is that it is not fun and if the most logical strategy doesn't lead to a fun game then your game will die out. Yes, some people will figure out their own fun but most will grow bored and leave. Mythic is not that dumb.

There has been some good suggestions, (and they need to go into feedback at the herald) like making it more difficult when there are no defenders or rewarding people more for fighting when there are more RvR defenders. I like the second one. Perhaps give the fortress lords better drops based on how many players had to be vanquished to take him down. I am not so sure about the other one though. As has been mentioned it could be gamed. Instead, I sent in the suggestion that the number and reinforcement rate of NPC defenders should rather depend on the total rate of victory point generation though out that pairing. This would make it depend only on the attackers so it couldn't be gamed so easily and it would depend on the whole realms participation, thus making it easier to attack when there are a lot of people on for your side. Artificially arranging it would be difficult though. Good luck talking your whole realm into loging on at 6am on Sunday but if you do it then reward it.

So the best time to attack, the path of least resistance would become, hopefully, the time when there are more human players on and presumably on both sides. It would also create much more of a sense of the whole realm participating in the attack. It is also easy to justify since more victory points should mean that the kings forces will be hard pressed else where and spread thin.

Late night keep raids may be the norm and likely always will be, but a city capture is not the sort of thing that a single, even big and well organized, guild should ever be able to do alone, dead of the night or not. It is not even something that an alliance should be able to easily pull off. It is something that should take a Realm to do and should take the combined efforts of most everyone on your side. Not everyone doing the same thing or being organized, but at some level everyone should feel like they contributed to it even if they were only working the tier 1 RvR lake for victory points.

Now THAT would be RvR.
PVP has never been about player vs player. It's alway been about ganking from a position of strength.
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