Tobold's Blog
Monday, August 15, 2011
Why do we PvP?

Why do people PvP in a MMORPG? If you ask the fans, you will end up with one variation of the answer that fighting against another human is intrinsically more interesting than fighting a scripted AI mob. Which is pretty much the reason why I keep enjoying World of Tanks after over 3,000 battles. But if we observe what people actually do in a MMORPG, does this answer hold up?

It is known that given the chance PvP players in a MMORPG will engage in win trading. Recent examples are a rift PvP exploit in Rift or Tol Barad in World of Warcraft. And then there are countless stories from pretty much every PvP MMORPG in existence about how players went to extreme lengths to win PvP by means which have nothing whatsoever to do with actually playing the game: Denial of Service attacks on the enemy alliance's Teamspeak servers in EVE. Attacking the enemy keep at 3 am in the morning when all possible defenders are logged off in WAR or DAoC. And the list goes on and on. If people were actually interested in fighting a more intelligent opponent, then why would they trade wins or attack when only a token AI defending force is present?

I think the answer is that in a MMORPG the ultimate purpose of any activity (PvP or PvE) is always character advancement. And that character advancement purpose has the unfortunate habit to trump every other possible purpose. Frequently to the point where people choose advancement over fun. "Yeah, it would be more fun to actually battle the other faction over that PvP rift, but lets just trade wins to get more prestige per hour." Unless game developers succeed in the impossible task of every activity giving exactly the same amount of reward for the same effort, players will always look for shortcuts to faster advancement, regardless of whether that shortcut is actually fun to play.

The solution is to rather do PvP games which aren't strictly MMORPGs, and where the fun of the battle against an intelligent opponent beats out the draw of the character advancement. I've found mine with World of Tanks. I hear League of Legends also works that way. And Trion goes from Rift to End of Nations. I think we will see a lot more successful PvP in the future that aren't MMORPGs.
You don't need the motivation of character advancement to cause unscrupulous players to use underhanded tactics. Look at the aimbots, wallhacks, etc. in first-person shooters.

However I do feel that the less PvP is mixed in with character power advancement, the better. I'd rather see PvP rewarded solely by glory (leaderboards, titles, achievements, etc.) rather than l00t. Or, if it is mixed in with advancement, do it in a fashion like World of Tanks, where it is well understood that as your victories progress you toward bigger and better tanks, your opponents will also be drawn from a pool of bigger and better tanks.
League of Legends has that with just a little twist of char advancment (until you reach lvl 30);

the old Guild Wars had it too to some extent, again with the quickly reached level cap

would it be so ridiculous to have a MMO without (classic) character advancement?
You pretty much hit the nail on the head with your summary. The end goal of every MMO is progression, and people are always going to try and progress the fastest way possible. If players have to fight other players, that slows down the progressing over players playing trade-a-keep like in early WAR, or taking advantage of the recent Rift PvP exploit.

PvP and MMORPGs are never going to find a good balance as long as progression is tied to gear and levels. You remove gear and levels and make the combat skill based (old school UO skill based, not talking about 'I can click my '1' button faster then you' skill), and then the real PvPers will stand out much more then the ones that want an easy ride.
As you said, people crave for character development. That's why, World of Tanks, League of Legends and various others MoBA's and PvP games provide the players with character development outside of the "real pvp action". And, interestingly enough, even though these games aren't the most competitve pvp ones, they get a lot of attention, simply because you can develop a character. Notice how RTS games aren't as popular nowadays as they used to be. That is because they are rewarded with nothing upon losing. They just see "Defeat" and feel like they wasted their time.
Seems like I'm in minority here but to me PvP is either for community interaction or for the pure adrenalin rush.

Started back in UO classic and back then, it was purely for community interaction. Was role-playing some sort of demi-orc in the area west of Shame and basically never really moved out of there for a year and half unless forced out. This role involved defending my territory but also dealing with people just passing through. Regular hunters ended up wearing a red bandana to mark the fact that they were respecting my territory and allowed to hunt about.

In DAoC, it was split into 2 distinct parts. One was community involvement (taking keeps, relics, organizing zergs, etc) and the other was 100% adrenalin rush (solo hunting late at night, 8 men patrols). During the latter, I sometimes had so much rush that my hands couldn't stop shaking for 10 minutes after the fights, win or lose. I loved that feeling.

I never really PvPed after DAoC. Tried in WAR, Darkfall, WOW, Rift and pretty much all other games that came out since but the feeling changed, with items becoming more important than skill and awareness.
When I need a PvP boost, I just re-open my old DAoC account for a month, have a blast, and then I'm done for the year or so.

Never entered my mind to link PvP with character advancement and I really don't get why people play the games you mention like World of Tanks (no immersion whatsoever) or League of Legends and the like.

Probably why I rarely play any of the new games that come out and curse when I actually buy one. Things changed in the gaming industry, and I was left behind :)
There was a time when PvP was what I did most in MMORPGs but I've also come to the conclusion that the two just do not fit very well together. Now I get my PvP kicks in lobby based games and am also having a lot more fun.
Don't you get better tanks and thus character advancement in wot?

There are plenty games where character advancement does not count. Go play a shooter like Counter Strike or an RTS game like Starcraft 2. What I like there is that everyone has an exact 50% chance to win, your "gear" does not matter as there is none.

Although games like Age of Empires online are trying to include character advancement too. And a lot of new shooters unlock better guns as you progress. I find this sad to see.
I have to wonder when we'll get a MMORPG that doesn't have PvP at all. On the other hand, people are up in arms about Blizzard saying that Diablo 3 isn't designed to have heavily balanced PvP, so I guess it's still demanded that any multiplayer RPG have the ability to smack your friend upside the head.
Two issues.

One: Pointing at PvE games that tack on PvP (Rift, WAR, WoW) is pretty pointless. There is a reason prominent PvP guilds don't reside in those games. Might as well point at LoL and complain about how simple it's PvE is.

Two: Setting up a fight where you have the advantage going in is a huge part of PvP in an MMO. As you point out, if someone wants a 'fair' 10v10, they can play a different game. Half the fun in a good PvP MMO is setting the situation so that it's 10v1 in your favor. The solo guy on the receiving end is a bad PvP'er.

The human element goes far being who has the best aim (that's grunt work). EVE continues to show this year after year, where the forums are almost a bigger part of the game than what happens in-game.
I've been doing more and more PvP in Rift since patch 1.4. PvP activity on what's become my main server, Shadefallen, has gone through the roof since the addition of PvP Rifts.

Until I followed the link in your post I had never heard of the exploit. I was aware that you don't need to do any PvP to complete the PvP rifts, which does seem like a substantial design flaw, but mostly ours are contested to some degree. I've certainly not seen any hint of collusion.

I think you're mistaken in relating any of this to PvP in the first place, though. All MMOs are absolutely ridden with examples of PvE exploits. There are substantial numbers of players who will always take advantage of any opportunity to get something for nothing.

Also I think you're conflating genuine exploits, like the ones you linked to, with the use of unsportsmanlike tactics, like raiding a keep in the middle of the night. The former has nothing at all to do with PvP but the latter is arguably just a purer form of PvP, in which no-one cares about "fairness". Winning is the thing, not winning fairly, after all.
I think people PVP.... To Win.

Either as an alternate or additional means.

Alternate in that, if you don't Raid in PvE you can never "win PvE." Or if you at your maximun skill level and fail a PvE encounter you will continue to fail again and again.

In PvP the person you are playing againt varies. This means even a very bad player may end up facing a person worse than they are. Or getting in some kill shots are weakened foes.

Additional in that if you are competive you will often try to win every way you can. You know how it goes someone from the top PvE guilds downs the final boss and goes to post it on the forums and people pretty much blow it off because PvE is "easy."

So I think the best players do PvP because they think winning has higher value and the worst players do PvP because they at least have a chance to win.

I think people that don't often like FPS or PvP games like WOT is because there is good chance of winning. In a FPS game a total noob will likely even up killed many and multiple times, in WOT each person can only die once. So each kill you make is a "win," and you can only lose (blow up) once.
The solution could also be to avoid creating situations where it takes a ridiculous amount of time and effort to gain serious advantages over opponents.

WOT kinda deals with this with the ranking system; you can enjoy playing in even the crappiest tanks.
Win trading happens in games like Rift or WoW partly because those games treat PvP like a mini-game that must be put up with in order to reach a mini-prize. The reward structure and motivation mechanics in an MMO like rift or wow are quite different than the mechanics and reward structures in say DOTA2, LoL, Darkfall, EVE, HoN, WoT, ect.
I think you're doing it a disservice by trying to generalize the motivation of all players who participate.

In games like WoW and Rift, there are players who PvP simply for the sake of competition. They enjoy the skill sets and the strategy and out-thinking the other team. That's what they enjoy most, and that's what they play for. The loot is mostly incidental to them; they are only interested in the competitive aspect of the game.

There are also progression-minded players, whose goal is solely to make the numbers on their character bigger, better, etc. They participate in pvp because it provides them an avenue towards obtaining the things that make their numbers go up. They don't really care about the pvp itself, they just see it as a means to an end to get their loots.

These are not binary descriptors either; there are those who enjoy both, but not equally, some who do enjoy equally, and some who are biased toward one or the other, and some who don't care at all, and only participate in pvp for the social aspects of it.

The win trading and collusion happens when more people are skewed toward the character progression side than the competitive side. This should not be a surprise.
I think there's a distinction between people who engage in PvP because they enjoy it, and those who engage in it for the rewards. PvP for the sake of PvP offers the same pleasures as any other competitive sport or pastime like football or chess - the challenge of matching yourself against others. As soon as a game offers gear or other forms of advancement, you get some players who want those rewards but aren't interested in the PvP itself. Those players will seek out the easiest way to get the reward, such as win-trading or AFKing in battlegrounds.
To bring it back to real-life examples, you don't see win-trading going on in Sunday pub football matches, but there are definitely cases of match-rigging in professional sports where there are real rewards at stake (sumo seems especially prone to corruption scandals, for example).
I PvP to win and I'll use any edge I can get in the game to do that.
It's so stupid how people complain about attacking in 3am not being fair etc. They can do it too, Maybe not the entire clan but at least some of them should be able to. Doubt the attackers have their entire clan with them either and if they do it's because they've planned it ahead of time, Ever heard the best defense is a good offense?

So it's really not the players fault it's the game's design. I never complain about combat systems, well maybe I do but I still try to play the current one to it's peak performance. I don't just say "this is unfair" and refuse to use any combat mechanics I find bad.

Unfair is when you are at a disadvantage because of something you never could prevent like RNG or class imbalance.

You might find my article on MMORPG's vs Multiplayer games interesting because it's related to the bottom half of your post.
Character advancement rewards are necessary to keep people playing (and paying!) long after the fun (Novalty? Learning? Challenge? Other?) has run out.
This is why console FPS have started adding the grinds, with huge success, and this trend is unlikely to change.

But to address your original question, I would argue that MMO players like to feel superior to one another, both in PvE and PvP.

PvP makes this explicit, enabling you to win roughly 50% of the time, 'owning' the opposition. Furthermore, you can use this to explain why people would rather join the zerg and farm the opposition, than focus on tactical objectives which would prove more successful.
@Bernard on Character Advancement:

I'm not sure that's a fair statement to make though.

Some of the things to do in game development is to ease the player into a game as well as have definite goals to reach for. You can't toss a player into a game and expect him to have fun. A progression element to the game allows players to work towards something (i.e. levels, achievements, medals, etc), while keeping it simple enough to let the player play.

Call of Duty multiplayer is still fun enough to play on its own, but I still like the progression element for it anyways. You may think it feels artificial, but to me it adds value to my time playing it.
I don't PvP. I'm one of those tards that believes in world peace.
Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

  Powered by Blogger   Free Page Rank Tool