Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
 
Separating the sheep from the wolves

One fundamental problem of the idea of a game with impact PvP, in which the strong could dominate the weak, is that nobody wants to play the weak. If we really could manage to separate the sheep from the wolves, who would pay $15 a month to play a sheep?

Unless of course if you made playing a sheep vastly more comfortable than playing a wolf. So how about this set of PvP rules: At character creation, players permanently flag themselves as being either PvP (wolf) or not PvP (sheep). Sheep can't attack or hurt other sheep in any way, but they can attack wolves. Wolves can attack whoever they want. Sheep that win a PvP fight get nothing for it. Wolves that win a PvP fight get points and some loot from the loser. Sheep that get killed lose that loot, but respawn at a safe point. Wolves that get killed in PvP are permadead.

Note that the result would probably be very close to the outcome of what happens in the real world: People don't commit murder, because it is actually rather dangerous. The sheep would band together to keep themselves safe from the wolves. So as getting killed is rare for a sheep, and apart from losing some loot not so punishing, a lot of players would probably prefer that safer mode of gameplay. As long as the PvE was good, they would be willing to pay to play the sheep. You just better not call it that way.
Comments:
I actually think this would work, as long as you could have (at least) one sheep and one wolf character per account.

I would play it, at least :)
 
Hah but then you wouldn't have any wolves who would play that game. As much as "real" pvpers try to argue that pvp in mmos need more consequences, give them a game where death means that you pay the ultimate price (actual death in game, no respawns) and they won't play it.

You'd just end up with a bunch of sheep in game and the would be wolves complaining on forums about how horrible the game is.

Of course to be fair this example is taking it to an extreme but it does illustrate the overall point pretty well.
 
I think it would be scary to be the first wolf in existence in an MMO, by your reckoning.
 
This idea has a fundamental problem.

People ARE sheeps but want to FEEL and observed by others as wolves.

So most people would roll wolves, get killed, reroll, get killed again, 2x more the same and leave. They refuse to roll sheeps as "ezy mod" and cannot run as wolves as they suck. The game would be only good for HC PvP-ers (1% of the playerbase) and PvE players with no self-confidence issues, who are not offended by the fact that they are "just" sheeps (10% of the players). The rest will go back to play WoW.
 
There really is no benefit for being a sheep. You get no benefit for acting on wolf-like tendencies. And who wants to be marked "wuss" anyway? Wolves naturally run in packs, unless it's a lone wolf.

I would play this game and want to be a wolf that would run with a strong pack.
 
Only 1 of two things is going to happen here as the rewards for being a wolf don't outweight the risk of your permadeath option.

Either wolves just roll 'sheep' then go after other wolves with no risk to themselves and neglible rewards vs. having rolled wolves.. or they roll wolves and stack the deck so it's nearly impossible to die by rolling in large groups ganging up and attacking solo or small groups.

I really just dont see a permadeath option working unless its extremely easy to rebuild a character, or everybody is subject to permadeath.
 
What incentives do the sheep have to choose this game over a normal PvE game? What reward do they gain for risking item loss and inconvenience?
 
What you say is equivalent to saying that the people who ask for "impact PvP" want to have that impact only apply to others, and do not want to suffer from negative consequences themselves.

In most current games, odds are stacked in favor of the attacker, so the attacker is less likely to lose than his victim. So attaching the same penalty for losing in fact favors the ganker over the ganked. Which is why in the real world there are strong penalties for attacking, and none for defending yourself. Shouldn't virtual worlds work in similar ways?
 
That's awesome. Hope someone picks up this idea and runs with it!
 
What you say is equivalent to saying that the people who ask for "impact PvP" want to have that impact only apply to others, and do not want to suffer from negative consequences themselves.
You might want to specify who you're replying to in the future.

In most current games, odds are stacked in favor of the attacker, so the attacker is less likely to lose than his victim.
Yes, because the attacker usually has the choice on whether to attack or not. So naturally they attack only when victory is probable. Such as when traveling with a wolfpack. Wolves vs. Sheep would not change this in any way, it would just ensure that wolves travel in as large packs as possible.

To elaborate on my own point, one only needs to look at low-security space in Eve: Same PvE content as in highsec, only with the added risk of getting attacked. Because the increased benefit does not outweigh the increased risk, most PvE players stick to highsec.
 
What you say is equivalent to saying that the people who ask for "impact PvP" want to have that impact only apply to others, and do not want to suffer from negative consequences themselves.

What they are actually saying is PvPers, like PvEers, will optimize the situation and prefer opportunities they can win. Attacking someone prepared for a fight is like going on a raid without a tank. It might be possible to win, but nobody besides the n00b, the insane, or the brilliant are going to want to even try it. People want to win, it's just that the computer (usually) whine less when you beat it up and take its lunch money.

Scott has the right answer above in regards to your concept: this system will likely degenerate into "real PKers" rolling sheep and jumping anyone foolish enough to roll a wolf to get a guaranteed, sanctioned attacker's advantage (see also "noto PKers"in UO or white PKers in M59). Eventually, nobody will roll a Wolf because it's just not fun (see flipping the PvP switch on the original EQ).

My prediction as someone who has worked on a PvP-focused game in the past.
 
You might want to specify who you're replying to in the future.

I usually do. In this case I just fired off a reply directly behind a comment, and your comment got inserted between the comment and my reply later, because it was stuck in comment moderation until I released it. Sorry.
 
People want to win, it's just that the computer (usually) whine less when you beat it up and take its lunch money.

I, and everybody else who is against PvP in MMORPGs, completely agree. I don't think anybody is ever going to implement the rule system I propose here, it is more a thought experiment. There are still a lot of people who argue for "impact PvP" in MMORPGs, but as you can hear from all the commenters, they would only be willing to play in a system in which that "impact PvP" has very little danger of negative consequences for the attacker. Which confirms my impression that "impact PvP" is all about cowards wanting to gank innocent victims with little risk, and that the more noble reasons often given for PvP are just bogus.
 
to be fair, I remember in Shadowbane we had servers with a.) permadeath and b.) reset every other month ... and people played it (ok, maybe not many).

If you anyway have x servers, I think dedicating one as wolf/sheep server could be actually quite interesting ... if alone to observe the people who play.
 
My experience comes as far back as UO as well, I helped run one of the larger guilds back in those days of over 250 members, Anti-PK and regular players.

Our goal was simple, beat the PK's with better organization, logistics, and numbers. It worked extremely well for us, just didn't work for the thousands of solo 'sheep' that didn't adapt to the environment.

My problem with 'sheep' in many open sandbox games, or with the sandbox games themselves that don't promote gameplay that evens the playing field.. is many times the so called sheep could easily win with organization, pooling resources, numbers, etc. However players rarely if ever do it, and developers never promote the necessary behavior.

Players by nature are greedy and prone to solo to maximize rewards. If I offer a player an incredible sum of ISK say in Eve-Online to transport a T3 Ship from Jita to just a couple jumps into Low-Sec.. what's he do? 99% chance he tries to do it solo then gets popped by pirates, or tries to multibox with a 2nd character and still fails. If you could get that player to cooperate, structure it in a way that he'd be motivated to go out and hire other players as guards for the shipment, entirely different experience - most likely a really cool dynamic experience.

The sheep are victims because they allow themselves to be cut off from the pack and picked off at the wolves mercy. The moment the sheep realize working as a pack they can survive and prosper against the wolves, the wolves are the ones that become the victims.

The problem is the nature of the sheep (PvE'ers), not willing to adapt, not willing to work together. We know players don't change, but they can be influenced extremely well by game design. The PvE'ers need a nudge to optimize the situation to their advantage as the PvP'ers do for themselves naturally.

There never will be a quick fix or simple ruleset that can solve this decade old dillema for MMO's.
 
I'm just imagining a dozen sheeps mè-ing at a wolf.

Guaranteed fun!
 
If you add sheepdogs to the scenario and give all of them a unique experience (quests,rewards,etc) it might be worthwhile.
 
Your design, Tobold, actually makes the strongest player in the game a "wolf in sheep's clothing" = people who are wolves but roll as sheep in order to hunt the wolves. Back in the UO days, being PK'd sucked... but what sucked more was being new to the game, doing something that caused you to flag red and then being Anti-PK'd.
 
Well, many of the sheep are casuals and don't want to be organised. In fact, their playstyle is that they can't always be sure when they are online.


I'm reminded of what someone told me about EvE (prolly true of all sandbox PvP games) which is 'if you have a fair fight in PvP, then someone made a mistake."
 
You assume that anyone interested in any such game would go into it wanting to be a pure sheep, or a pure wolf. Even in DarkFall, very few players are the 'pure wolf' types that only focus on PvP and being the absolute best, and few are 'pure sheep' that avoid PvP at all times (traders and guild crafters). The far greater majority want to do both at varying degrees, and all but the most delusional accept that they will never be the top wolf. I'd much rather know my true skill level in the world than be lied to by some NPC that tells me I'm the real hero, just like he told the 1000 before and after me. If being handed a new shiny or achievement does it for you, there are plenty of games that cater to that.

The silly argument that a virtual world should mimic the real world in terms of deterrents is foolish. A world like DarkFall is not trying to mimic the real world, it's trying to mimic a world at constant war. In a warzone, soldiers don't ask the other side if they are ready, or only attack when everything is 'fair'. They make sure they can win (usually without ANY casualties), and use 'unfair' advantages like air-strikes or superior firepower. Do you call such Generals 'gankers', or brilliant?

The difference between a real war and one in-game is that obviously, the losers in-game can come back and get revenge, or attempt to do better the next time. And while everyone wants to win, when playing a game they would much rather win a close and contested fight than a complete wash. Every time a close fight happens in DarkFall, BOTH sides end up more motivated for the next encounter. When one side dominates the other, even the winners 'lose' because they were not able to show off any true skill. Hence the first months in DF were all about zergs and domination, while recently (and especially on NA) clans and alliances have been picking on 'worthy' targets.
 
"Which confirms my impression that "impact PvP" is all about cowards wanting to gank innocent victims with little risk, and that the more noble reasons often given for PvP are just bogus"

Perma-death is the most extreme form of impactful pvp. Just because a part of the community is bored with the 0 impact pvp of most mmos today does not mean that they want to go to the other extreme and lose their characters over one mistake. As with most things in life the majority of people will be dispersed throughout the spectrum between the two ideological extremes of perma-death and 0 impact. Not all of us are internet bullies that want to pick on old players with slow reflexes as Tobold seems to believe comprises 100% of the Darkfall/Eve players of the world. I enjoy large scale pvp battles between competent forces over scarce or valuable resources. I don’t go out and gank new players for their 2 copper. I don’t get together with a group of my friends and camp jumpgates. Just because I don’t want my character wiped when I die does not mean that I only want to prey on the weak with no consequences. Sweeping generalizations about a whole segment of players, in this case people that want some form of impact pvp, are ridiculous and just weaken your thesis.
 
If 10% of players are wolves and there's a market of 10m players, that means you've got 1m wolves. I think 1m people can sustain a game, certainly. Even if you just get one third of the wolves, you still have 300k.

There's no reason to encourage sheep to play a game for wolves (and vice versa). There should be different games that suit these different playstyles.
 
The system exists. Its called Arena (wolf) and battlegrounds (sheep). Blizzard thought of this one a few years ago.
 
syncaine's post recalls to me the old discussion about BG twinks. Lots of people hated the twinks because they ruined the leveling BG experience by getting as many advantages as possible, while a number of twinks were saying they were "looking for a fair fight against other twinks."

Well, if you want to extrapolate the current state of twink-BGs to Tobold's post, it might possibly give some more insight to the situation.
 
@Evizaer
"There's no reason to encourage sheep to play a game for wolves (and vice versa)."
The trouble with that is that in any PvP game, there are always sheep & wolves. Out of that 1m who are "wolves" by WOW standards, there will be 100K who are so good at PvP that they effectively prey on the remaining 900K. That 900K (who were wolves in WOW, as they were in the top 10% of PvPers) are now the sheep and probably won't enjoy the experience. As a result, they'll leave. At which point the bottom 90K of the remaining 100K cease to be wolves & become sheep and the death spiral continues.

Obviously the numbers there are made up, but hopefully you get the point.
 
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