Tobold's Blog
Saturday, February 04, 2017
 
Homo homini lupus est

I was interested in Funcom's new game, Conan Exiles, for about half a minute when I was reading about a survival game with exploration and crafting. Then the interest ended abruptly when I realized that it was yet another PvP game. Free for all PvP games are designed specifically for loser jerks who still live in their mother's basement and who need the success experience of PvP griefing in order to feel better about their pathetic existence. For the developers it is a lot cheaper to have players serve as "content" for each other rather than try to balance decent PvE content. The result is usually pretty much unplayable for normal people, although the sadists appear to enjoy it.

I haven't found a good multiplayer survival game yet which isn't based on PvP griefing as source of content. Probably because it is so difficult to make a good system that isn't overwhelmed by the action of the players. Ultima Online had an artificial life engine that didn't survive the onslaught of the players and was scrapped. In games like A Tale in the Desert you needed to carefully choose the place you wanted to build your house: Too close to the other players meant getting into each other's way, while too far away in the wilderness meant having to run very far for access to necessary common locations like temples.

I do think a good game could be made based on those principles, competition over resources without the easy way out of PvP. The world just has to be large enough so that an accumulation can only lead to a local scarcity of let's say wood when players did fell all trees, and not to a global one. A system in which players can make laws, like in A Tale in the Desert, is much more realistic of human history than a game of anarchic free-for-all PvP.

Comments:
You do know there are official PvE servers, right?

https://blog.conanexiles.com/en/dev-blog-8-servers-mods/

Not to mention that most of the players will be on private servers anyway, where they can set their own rulesets, including switching PvP on or off.

If such FFA PvP servers as there may be, official or unofficial, are optional it kind of blows a hole in your argument I feel. not that it held much water to begin with...
 
No, I didn't know that. I got several advertising mails, and there was a lot text about crushing your enemies, seeing them driven before you, hearing the lamentations of their women, but not mentioning that there are PvE servers. Even some with "relaxed" setting. Now I might actually buy this game if the reviews improve (right now a lot of people on Steam are unhappy with the technical state of the game).
 
Have you played Don't Starve and Don't Starve Together? Me and the wife had a blast playing those together
 
Have you played Don't Starve and Don't Starve Together? Me and the wife had a blast playing those together
 
In every MMO characters attack your character. Even in entry-level WoW the wolves of Elwyn forest attack you. Why does it matter if these are player characters (free for all non-consensual PvP) or NPCs?
 
The closest thing I've seen to someone trying to modernize A Tale in the Desert is a still-in-development game, Eco.

Multiplayer, players must collaborate or the world ecosystem gets affected, players have to form a government and decide on laws/rulesets that affect the server.

Given the number of griefers in online games though, I am fully expecting mass carnage in a non-classroom/educational environment, unless they manage to get the system tweaked to favor cooperation over selfishness.

One thing that controlled griefers in ATiTD was the fact that they had to pay a sub after 24 hours online, and were limited in what they could do without paying. If the Eco people think a government can spontaneously form without intentional game design help and sufficient laws put in place before solo griefers wreck the earth, they probably have another think coming.
 
Why does it matter if these are player characters (free for all non-consensual PvP) or NPCs?

NPCs follow a set of rules whether and when to attack you. As long as you behave appropriately, that is keep to zones of your level and don't Leroy your way through packs of wolves, you end up with fights that are designed to be balanced. PvP griefers go out of their way to assure that the fight is unbalanced, and they don't follow any rules. Wolves don't corpse camp or torture characters, PvP griefers do.

Somebody who professes to love PvP should be playing games like League of Legends or other multiplayer shooter or arena games, which are designed to give everybody a chance. The sort of game in which you can attack somebody who has no chance of fighting back attracts a special kind of twisted character who is fundamentally evil. The goal is not to measure your skill against a better intellect than an AI can supply, but to make life unpleasant for somebody else.
 
It is true that griefing is an issue in most if not all PvP games, although it may be that even with griefing, the balance is struck well enough for many. They certainly seem to be popular, so they must be entertaining some substantial sector of the community.

It may be that the reality of ganking doesn't conform to the image of brave warriors fighting against the odds. But the realities of grinding or absence of consequences in other games clearly don't fill that gap either!

What all this says to me is simply that games don't yet deliver what we want and believe them to be capable of. Maybe we're asking for the impossible. In the real world the penalties for griefing are significant, while the benefits of cooperation are high and the main downside is tedium. In the virtual world the penalties and benefits are by their nature downsized, and tedium is the worst fate possible. Naturally events proceed differently!
 
Tobold says:
"The sort of game in which you can attack somebody who has no chance of fighting back attracts a special kind of twisted character who is fundamentally evil. The goal is not to measure your skill against a better intellect than an AI can supply, but to make life unpleasant for somebody else."

I think it's slightly more complex than that. Certainly, there ARE players that border on the psychotic and use the game environment as a risk free outlet for that (Eve's Erotica1, with the "Bonus round" game, for example). And yeah, I think games should be designed and operated to prevent that. But there is, I think, a more prevalent psychology at work, that of overly competitive people who will do anything to "win." It's a sociopathic trait, rather than a psychopathic one.

These are people that would cheat at a friendly game of golf if they thought they could get away with it, or buy "honor-buddy" bots and "kick bots" to dominate PvP arena matches. They're not doing it to specifically hurt the other player like the psychopathic player would, but rather to fill their own solipsistic need to win.
 
Like others have said it has PvE servers and you can always just play solo, though the game is obviously balanced on default settings for team play. There are sliders for lots of settings including the nudity, lol. I've got maybe 10 hours in to it and it's been fun. But I've been playing solo and I think I'm ready to find a PvE server and a clan now.
 
My wife, who despises PvP but loves survival games, has moved over to Conan: Exiles with her gang of RP cohorts en masse. They're playing on PvE servers and honestly I think half the appeal for her and her friends are the winky physics.

That said: I am too much of a Conan/Howard purist and just can't bring myself to try out another attempt by Failcom to milk to IP.
 
@Tobold: so your problem is that you can always defeat wolves (unless you are stupid), you sometimes lose against players.
 
@Gevlon - It seems to me that the sentence "PvP griefers go out of their way to assure that the fight is unbalanced" is not hard to understand. The griefers will almost always be several level above yours and will corpse-camp you. Or they’ll be 2 or 3 of them. Or they'll attacked you while you're already engaged with some wolves or something. Or you just got out of a fight with half your life remaining, etc. It's not so much that they're better at PvP (they very well might be, that's not the point) it's that the fights are unbalanced / unfair.

When I was playing WoW, I had several encounters where the fight was balanced. We fought, one of us won, the other one lost and we moved on. That was fun.

However, MOST encounter were not like that. When you have to actually stop playing and go do something else for an hour until he gets tired of waiting, that's not fun. I don't have time for this anymore.
 
I don't know about motivations, I just see open-PvP players as unskilled at PvP. They don't like games like League of Legends because the sides start out equal, and so their lack of skill means they lose. They need to have overwhelming levels or numbers to ensure victory, in what I essentially see as welfare kills. I find it surprising that Gevlon sides with the morons & slackers and against skill in this case.

As for why you keep seeing these games, part of it is the fans of this game type just won't accept the difference between the epic world they have in their head, and the garbage reality that these games always turn out to be. There is always some excuse as to why these games "haven't been done right yet." The "best" open-PvP games are the ones where you very rarely deal with the open-PvP aspect of the game. Not that it isn't a bad feature, just one that doesn't show up very often.
 
Samus said:
"As for why you keep seeing these games, part of it is the fans of this game type just won't accept the difference between the epic world they have in their head..."

It's a "normalcy bias" where "normal" is them being the highly skilled player that wins. PvP fights are fast and consequence free, you don't ruin a night's raiding for the group by sucking when you PvP, you just die a bunch of times in the corner. It's easy to ignore that reality and bias your mind towards the times you "totally ganked those guys" because you were so much better (RE: Caught them at a disadvantage.)

My hypothesis on why you see a lot of this in games like WoW is that overly competitive people who just want to win will constantly engage in advantage seeking. A "fair" game where everyone is on equal footing yields no advantage. An unbalanced class based game yields many opportunities to advantage seek, so "skill" becomes selecting the class and situation where you have the maximum advantage.

You see this on message forums all the time. Any effort to "balance the classes" through the only mechanism that would actually work, homogenization, is met with the full vitriol of an overly vocal, advantage seeking PvP crowd. Of course, there is another group that ALSO opposes homogenization, and that's the full RP "literary meme" players that believe in the "rare and special hero that will save everyone" meme found in fantasy literature.

Look at WoW legendaries in Legion as an example... the "literary meme" people say "A Legendary is supposed to be unique, otherwise it's not a legendary." It's just an RP device to them, not something normal people will ever have. The overly competitive crowd see it as an advantage, and they must have the BIS ones to actualize that advantage. They will literally kill themselves in game to get that advantage. The "Stupid shit of the month" now is to delete your character and reroll when it doesn't get BIS legendaries fast enough. The rationalization is that "You need them to compete in Mythic raiding." when the actuality is that the best Mythic groups are on PvP servers. The only realistic reason for that is they carry the over competitiveness into WPvP when not actively chasing a "world first." No one is going to tell the truth: "Sure, I need BIS legendaries so I can pwn in WPvP."
 
@Gevlon: I don't mind winning or losing, and generally prefer harder PvE where there is a solid chance of losing. But look at it that way: There are so many games out there that in your virtual life you can be absolutely anything you wish to be: You could be a king, a general, a hero, a city planer, a detective, a wizard, and so on, and so on. And in this universe of infinite possibilities somebody decides "Oh, I am going to be the guy that lurks in the bushes until somebody weak comes along, and then I hurt him and impose my will onto him!". For me that is a sick and twisted mind, somebody who under other circumstances would have become a real world rapist or worse. If you dream of hurting people, you aren't the kind of person I want to play with. So I keep away from games that attract that sort of people.
 
@Tobold: he is not hurting people, he is hurting characters. The people are still sitting behind their computer playing a video game. They just lose a round.

Imposing unfair fight on NPCs is VERY common, it's called "grinding". When the MMO mindset is "find lots of weak characters and farm them", why is it so surprising that a PvP-er will seek farmable player characters? Going into a "heroic" dungeon and AoEing it down with below-healer DPS is not ganking the NPCs. They have zero chance to win or even to run and players prefer that over Shattered halls HC where the NPCs could put up a fight.


 
"Hurting characters" only applies to a very small subset of PvP. The activities that I am talking about (see link), like corpse camping or torturing are designed to hurt the player behind the character, as the character can't feel pain anyway. Games generally don't reward the player for these activities, so it isn't "grinding". Nobody would grind in PvE if there wasn't some xp/loot reward for it. Griefing isn't rewarded, so people do it purely out of malice, not because of character advancement.
 
Smokeman said: "Of course, there is another group that ALSO opposes homogenization, and that's the full RP "literary meme" players that believe in the "rare and special hero that will save everyone" meme found in fantasy literature."

That's nothing to do with homogenisation, really. Nobody wants it so that only the lowly dwarf Orkulator343 has the necessary skills or magic ring to kill the boss. You don't have to go that far to want classes to be functionally different (as distinct from having different AOE animations), even if that means a particular class or spec will often be sub-optimal for a given situation.
 
@Tobold: there is no question that the one who grinds player characters for no in-game reasons is likely trying to grief the other player. However if you can be griefed by corpsecamping your avatar, it's probably you being overly sensitive or dumb. I played MMOs for more than a decade and can't remember being upset (griefed) by enemy PvP actions. When corpsecamped, I just went AFK knowing that while I do something else, that idiot is watching the screen waiting for my ressing. All my upsetness was when the game forced me to play with useless teammates.
 
" I just went AFK knowing that while I do something else, that idiot is watching the screen waiting for my ressing."

I wasn't going to jump into conversation but with this line I had to. That's all well and good if you have all the time in the world to wait for another player to get bored of killing you and move on, but most people with full time jobs, families, and obligations don't have the luxury of waiting an hour to play a game they want to play.

So yes someone corpsecamping is LITERALLY ruining the limited amount of time I have to play video games. It has nothing to do with being overly sensitive or dumb. If I play a game for an hour and I spend that hour being griefed by players and unable to actually play the game you can bet I won't waste any more precious game time on that game.


 
Gary Quinn:
The literary meme of "rare and special hero that will save everyone" isn't taken 100% literally, that would be silly and result in problems anyone could see. But it biases the mind towards a system where it's Ok to have a class type situationally less effective than another. That puts the RPers in the same camp (In a way.) as the advantage seekers, just for totally different reasons.

Bigeye:
You have to understand that Gevlon here is highly competitive, and would consider the time spend doing "something else" while the camper wastes their time as still "playing the game", in a way pwning the pwner by strategically AFKing while the griefer is denied their tears. For Gevlon, it's win win. He gets to pwn some slacker while accomplishing something else at the same time.
 
@Bigeye: how about an NPC "corpsecamping" you by repeatedly wiping your raid and you end your playing session with nothing but repair bill.

I think you overvalue the social interaction. When the raidboss kills you again and again, you aren't socializing with it. But when a player does, you imagine his laughter over your defeat and THAT makes you mad. Treat him as an NPC and all your grief goes away.
 
@Gevlon You're assuming I raid (I don't anymore). Again it has nothing to do with the other player at all. I'm not going to spend time "playing" a game if I feel like my time is being wasted.

I'll give you an example.

I play overwatch. I can lose every single game over the course of an hour, but I still gain experience and lootboxes. So no matter what I feel like I'm at least getting something out of my time investment.

If I play WoW and spend an hour getting ganked instead of leveling or questing or whatever I have essentially wasted an hour of my time.

Even comparing that to a raid where the boss kills the raid for an hour your comparison would still be false. In a raid wiping for a hour still ends up with the players gaining knowledge and experience with that boss. That is a tangible benefit they will then use to eventually down that boss. At the bare minimum the players doing the raid are STILL gaining something for their time spent, even if they don't accomplish their ultimate goal.

No amount of knowledge or skill is going to let my level 30 alt kill a level 100 griefer. I gain absolutely nothing, from someone corpsecamping my alt.
 
@Gevlon

The raid leader's underperforming girlfriend is no better or worse than a griefer, both are wasting your time for their own "fun." At least you can find another raid. What if the game let bad players just jump into your raid, without your permission and you can't kick them, and they cause you to wipe until you quit because they think it is funny? Would you play that game?
 
@Samus: are you talking about group finder with the 4-hours kick timer?
 
@Gevlon

Yes, except it would be the only available game mode. Would you play that game?
 
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