Tobold's Blog
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Thought for the day: Meaningful PvP

Doesn't "meaningful PvP" automatically mean a form of PvP where you really hurt other players' progress in some way? If every form of PvP which constantly resets and doesn't hurt players all that much is considered meaningless, but people will quit games where losing PvP really hurts, how could meaningful PvP possibly work?
Skat, Soccer, Badminton, ludo, chess, strategy games, ...

Yes. If players play against players those who lose .. lose. That's the reason they want to actually .. win.

And, by the way, if you lose against a PvE Boss that hinders your progress as well .. ..

In my opinion you need to rethink this argument.
Actually I could also ask you:

Doesn't "meaningful PvE" automatically mean a form of PvE where boss mobs really hurt players' progress in some way? If every form of PvE which constantly resets and doesn't hurt players all that much is considered meaningless, but people will quit games where losing PvE really hurts, how could meaningful PvE possibly work?

It is not a principal difference.
I agree, though, that there is a difference in that some players enjoy to farm PvE bosses.
For than in a PvP mechanism to happen, you'd need e.g. strong incentives for players to reroll occasionally.
Skat, Soccer, Badminton, ludo, chess, strategy games,

They all "reset" at the end of the game, and you can start the next round from fresh. For some reason the PvP fans in MMORPGs don't like that solution.

PvE is different, because you can design the game in a way that the mobs nearly always lose (aka WoW), and because losing mobs complain a lot less than losing players, there is less of a problem.
I think you're projecting here by assuming that a meaningful loss leads to the player quitting. Could you elaborate on that?
Well, if the PvP has to be "meaningful", with "impact", "changing the world", then the winning side in the war will have to be able to hold only whatever territory they won, without a reset. Which means the losing side being disadvantaged for a longer time, being forced to play the underdog for a considerable time. You don't think that would lead to the losers quitting?
I guess they want Poker ... the game resets, but you take away some of their money ^^
Firstly: No, I don't.

Secondly: If there are more than 2 sides, two can unite against the third. This way you do not get into the kind of trouble like: Rewarding the winning side makes the winning side stronger until they own 100% of the game world.

Think of games with 5 or more sides.

This is a fundamental reason for why WAR RvR has to be meaningless.
Ironically there never was a reason to include only 2 sides in the WAR universe. WAR would naturally offer more than 2 sides.

This was a copy-paste from WoW and a bad one.
I guess they want Poker ... the game resets, but you take away some of their money ^^

And besides all we want ... immersion, credibility. Yeah, I know: It gets old to mention these things ;)
No "meaningful PvP" means a PvP where the outcome has a meaning. It's about change. Change is good, it keeps the game fresh.
"Meaningful PvP" isn't the goal; "Entertaining PvP" is.

Competetive sport is by no means the only, and certainly not the best, model for MMO gameplay, be it PvE or PvP. There are so many real-life activities that have no innate competetition, and which don't require winners and losers. Things which millions of people do simply for the fun of doing them.

I love PvP when it ressembles those endless games of "tag" that filled thousands of hours of my childhood. No-one kept score, no-one "won" or "lost".

Or the games of Frisbee, with no rules or goals, just the fun of tossing and catching the disc.

Or the cricket games on the common in the summer holidays, when everyone took turns to bat and field, and you were in until you were out and there were no sides and no score and we played all day until we had to go home for tea.

The ideal for MMO gameplay should be that the actual tasks you perform, be it fighting or crafting or questing, be it PvE or PvP, should be so intrinsically entertaining that no other motivation is required. Just the pure mechanics of what you as a player are causing your character to do should be so absorbing and amusing that you want to do it over and over and over again.

If you need to incentivise your players with rewards your design is already failing.
For me meaningful pvp is pvp with a political dimension.

In other words our faction leader or guild leader has to be sat down with someone he really doesn't like very much to hammer out a deal to beat up someone we dislike even more.

Eve has this. Warhammer doesn't.
I don't think meaningful has to mean one side wins and the other side loses. I think to be meaningful, PvP has to affect something outside of just an instance or a scoreboard.
I think it's all about the factors that lead to winning, rather than how often it happens.

If winning requires some skill that I deem worthwhile acquiring, then all ok, otherwise it's lame.

In WoW winning PvP means farming honor, dying repeatedly etc. Winning means meeting people who haven't farmed as much. It's really meaningless in that I don't feel bad when I lose and good when I win.

In soccer, I can win by training to run faster, dribble skillfully, work as a team etc. which are already "good things". Therefore I respect the winners if I lose and really want to train and beat them. I actually get some fun out of being 'set back' by a loss, because I know it motivates me to do something good for myself. It's not just frustration that I lost some arbitrary e-peen contest.
I'm the type of casual PvP oriented player that wants 'meaningful' PvP.

What that means to me is primarily open non-instanced world PvP.

PvP that changes or affects the world your in, ie. not an arena match or 30m-4h battleground that plays out like a meaningless match that contributes nothing to the game except an alternate achievement system.

One good example of this is EvE-Online's 0.0 space (taking note of their upcoming Dominion changes too). Allowing players at least in a designated region conquer and control areas between themselves for control of resources and bragging rights doesn't 'hurt' anyone in that sense, it adds dynamic and changing gameplay that players are able to drive on their own given the proper tools by the developers.

Thus when you're given the ability to affect the game in a way like that, and have a stake in it, it has meaning rather than instanced matches that might provide a quick fix for action but detract and undermine real pvp from the actual game.

A good pvp system shouldn't allow one side to 'win' forever, it should have drawbacks such as exponential costs/difficulty the further you achieve in the system as a group or player, and then on the other side it should have a low barrier of entry for scrappier underdogs to try and topple the 'king of the hill'. Thus you don't get a hard reset, but you've give a system that allows players the opportunity to reset and achieve doing something that has meaning, not just a timer in the game deciding to restart the match.
^ ^ ^ ^
That's a very good analogy. Because poker has the advantage of balancing length of play vs tension maintained, good balance of skill vs luck, and when you throw in the gambling aspect, the chance to walk away from the table richer then when you sat down.

Those factors when balanced properly make for meaningful PvP.
Why does "meaningful" have to mean the losers get a setback in progress?

Consider a game design where PvP winners gain territory which unlocks PvE quests and rewards; and meanwhile the PvP losers are knocked back to the wilds with rebel leaders handing out PvP quests and gear ... the results would be meaningful for both sides, right?
No Pain, no Gain.

The problem with open world WoW PvP: Nobody loses anything except having to walk back. Nobody wins actually more than the pure victory.

EVE on the other hand has risk vs reward: You can fight in your T3 ship, but if you get blown up... it hurts. But you can also fight in your T1 ship and lose less.

You can chose to avoid highly dangerous areas.

But there is real danger to lose something. But there is also the opportunity to HURT someone and to GAIN something.

PvP has become more e-sports nowadays. The "PK's" (Player Killers) of Ultima Online no longer exist. Nobody is going to loot your dead body clean anymore.

Especially WoW is so gear driven that such a system simply would not work anymore. Nobody would have use for your "soulbound" legendary raid drop of uberness either.

This is why I think trinity-based, progress and gear/level driven DikuMUDs are especially bad for "meaningful" PvP. Aion might be a quite good PvP game, but there is no "ante", you cannot chose how much you are willing to risk. You lose a fixed amount of Abyss points solely based on your level, and you win the same fixed amount based on the Abyss rank of the target.

Someone at Kill Ten Rats explained this "ante" thing much better, you can read it up there.
I would argue that the XP gain, ability to collect shards, gain more honor and marks, and fight the Vault bosses makes Lake Wintergrasp PvP meaningful "impact" PvP.

And you've also stated many times that you like Wintergrasp!

Look at what happened in WAR. They made it somewhat "meaningful" but one side was so overpopulated that they always controlled the objective.

Then there wasn't any more PVP because the other side wouldn't play.
There's no point.

Same sort of thing. I'd sure quit if there was some sort of penalty and I always lost, regardless of skill involved.
You can have meaningful player conflict without having one player kill another. For instance, you could have a series of PvE battles that each side of a conflict completes and whoever succeeds at those scenarios by the widest margin wins whatever was at stake (a place, resource, etc).

Or you could have players play minigames that start off symmetrical in order to resolve conflicts.
"the game resets, but you take away some of their money"
Now there's an idea! Make losing PvP cost real world cash rather than in-game gold. That's plenty meaningful and won't affect in-game progress. Players could contribute (for example) $1 extra per week to be PvP enabled and the money gets divided up depending on win/lose ratios at the end of each month.

Let's see how the PvP lovers like *really* meaningful PvP ;)
With all these questions you're asking about MMOs, Tobold, you really need to play Eve Online for a couple of months. It's the only thing really different out there right now and it works pretty well.

Eve definitely has meaningful PvP. Both in the general sense, that the battles really affect the universe and people care. And in the sense you define, that people lose PvP too. It causes anxiety for some people who then quit Eve or play entirely as a carebear. It also causes a lot of excitement and for a large group of people, is the reason they play Eve.

In the micro scale when you lose a PvP fight your ship gets blown up. That's remarkably traumatic, particularly if it's your first mining ship with tech 2 mining lasers and the holds are full of two hours worth of ore. Ship insurance cuts the sting a bit, and if you're a good pilot you can often sense when trouble is coming and avoid it. On the flip side there's nothing more fun than finding a nice juicy mining barge, popping it open, and holding the capsuleer hostage for the price of the implants in his head.

In the macro scale Eve is a game of alliance warfare over territory. It's pretty exciting when hundreds of pilots assemble capital fleets to go fight over a system. And the losses can hurt badly and demoralize the losing team. I've seen two 1000+ pilot alliances go down, ASCN and BoB, and it was ugly. Although in the case of BoB there was a lot of pleasure in seeing them suffer, even if the way they were undone was by treachery.
*reads through comments*
I guess the problem with "meaningful PvP" is that everyone seems to have their very own definition of that fabled meaning, with those definitions not only differeng and conflicting, but sometimes outright opposing.
Also, the games that Nils mentioned do not actually reset in all aspects. Player skill changes after each game and that is NOT reset. Also, in physical sports, injured players do not get their injuries reset when a new game starts. League tables change after each match and the planning environment changes as teams see what other teams are doing. There is a lot of persistence in real life games. And people frequently quit real life games because of losing in "PvP".
Nils, your analogy is poor (or at least incomplete.) There are two main kinds of sport, each in both team and individual varieties -- head-to-head sports, where huge gaps in skill make for greatly diminished for both the winner *and* the loser (basketball, tennis, wrestling, etc.) and side-by-side sports where even the losers can have fun because they can challenge themselves regardless of the skill/lack of skill of the other competitors (rowing, running, golf, etc.)

To overgeneralize a moment, PvP is the first type of sport, and PvE is the second type. Let's compare running to raiding -- "casuals" can do a quick run in the morning before work, more serious runners can attempt rigorous courses, and professionals and amatuers alike can enjoy marathons, provided they have a high enough skill level. This is remarkably similar to how raiding works.

"Meanginful" PvP, to date, has been more like a pepetual game of rugby in which participants are not separated by level -- pros going all out vs. amatuers, who get discouraged because not only is there no way to win, defeat is sometimes so total that the losers just stop participating because they face an impossibly steep skill curve.
Winning only matters if losing also matters. Does not matter if it is PvE or PvP.

For people it is more psychological issue, losing hurts a lot more if you know that someone else has won.

On the other hand it is also true that winning against a mob seems achievable, you can figure out the predetermined patterns and win eventually, whereas against a person that may never happen.

The real solution are tiers, as in the WoW arena, I really suck at PvP but once I dropped to a rating of 700 I had a lot of unpredictable outcomes and fun matches!
PVP-centric games will never be as succesful as more mainstream games like WoW. Sure there is a niche in the market for them but there will never be a PVP-focused game with WoW-like numbers.

The simple reason why is because the average person doesn't like to lose, period. So games where they have true losses, not just a corpse run back, won't keep them around for long.

Look at games with severe death penalties or huge losses in PVP like losing your gear or stats. You'll never see a game like that become huge.

The average mainstream gamer just doesn't want penalties like that. They don't want to lose their gear because of a single misstep in a random pvp battle. They don't want to lose their stats or exp because 2 minutes of pvp action didn't go their way.

As much as people like to vocalize about how games these days are easier and we need more challenges, and yada yada, the truth is gamers these days LIKE how things are. They don't want to run into the bullshit brickwalls that old games were famous for. They don't want huge penalties and losses every time they die. They don't want their stuff taken away from them upon death.

Now with all that said that doesn't mean those types of games can't be successful on their own terms. Eve should be the prime example of a niche game that is very successful. But it's still a niche game nonetheless.
meaningful PVP is when you are willing to accept some real risk in exchange for possible greater gains. It shouldn't be a zero-sum game though. In WoW BGs, both sides can get the same rewards, just the winners a little faster than the losers; there's no risk or even much of a reward involved.

Wintergrasp is better, because the winner gets a different raid boss. But still, there isn't enough risk (we can try again in 2 hours!) or reward (VoA loot isn't incredible) to make it worthwhile.

Now what if access to Ulduar depended on winning some sort of PVP event, and the zone would be locked out for days at a time if you lost? The winner gets a whole zone to work on, and the loser can still raid other instances. There's a reward for winning, and a risk in not winning.

Basically, for people who love PVP, they want their skill to matter. I'm not really a PVPer, but when you aren't playing a game for gear, content or friends, you want your impact to matter more than just grinding gear that only makes it easier to grind bigger gear.
If PVP with resetting doesn't keep players, it means the core gameplay (the actual fighting) isn't fun enough. Or perhaps just not fun enough to pay a monthly fee.

Perhaps most people, when not motivated by the carrot of accumulated gains, stop playing because most MMOs aren't fun in and of themselves. Maybe the carrot has dominated the equation here.
The golden days of PvP in WoW were the old Tarren Mill/Southshore battles and the original Alterac Valley. Somewhere along the way Blizzard lost sight of what makes PvP fun. They have attempted to return some of the fun by giving us Wintergrasp but even that is seen as an annoyance for people wanting to raid the instances in that zone.

PvP works in Eve Online because that MMO is built from the ground up for PvP. The best rewards are gained by heading to 0.0 space and being part of a corporation. Even so there is still fun to be had for carebear corporations in highsec space.

The tacked on PvP in WoW caters to only a minority of players who like arenas. If you want real PvP in WoW then play on a PvP server. If Blizzard penalised players for losing PvP then people simply would not play PvP or would not play WOW if that was the only focus of the game.
Tobold, I don't think this is a PvE vs. PvP argument I think this is a "give the players meaningful abilities to change the gameworld" vs. "don't give the players meaningful abilities to change the gameworld" argument.

You're wrong in saying that "meaningful" PvE wouldn't have the same issues as meaningful PvP. In this context "meaningful" PvE would mean changing the gameworld in a significant way (i.e. permanently killing a boss so nobody else could fight him, burning down a city full of monsters, building a new city, etc. etc.) and if you did that a lot of course a massive number of people would bitch about that. For example UO had "meaingful" PvE in the sense that people could put a castle on the map and everyone would see it and people complained about suburbal sprawl. There's nothing inherently PvP about having "meaningful" content.

Basically the problem is that people like affecting other people but they don't like other people affecting them and because of this is really hard to reach a compromise in this sort of case since either way one camp or the other ends up getting pissed of.

For me at least the acid test of a game is "would it be possible to write an interesting story out of the history of player action in this game." For Eve that can (and has at great length) been done and the same goes for some PvE games like A Tale in the Desert. For games like WAR and WoW its not really possible (or if you did it, it would be horrifically boring and repetivie). For me at least, a world without history isn't a world at all.
Skat, Soccer, Badminton, ludo, chess, strategy games,

Sure, they reset, Tobold, but I think the complaints of some people is that they feel like they're in one giant game of chess, and that someone's reseting the game every time a single piece is taken. That might be a better metaphor for that point of view.

I'm with the commenters pointing out that meaningful pvp doesn't have to be "if you lose, it hurts a lot". Obviously you have to have some penalty for failing on a small scale in any game; you even lose some time in WoW if you die. A good example of one of the times when it hurt a lot to fail in WoW was the suppression rooms in BWL in vanilla WoW. Anyone remember that? Having to start over an hour-long aoe grind if you fail on the boss was very painful. Obviously, they don't do that any more.

However, I feel that the MMO community is stuck in this either/or idea: that you either have losing hurt, or your pvp is meaningless. You just have to get more creative - and more convincing - in making pvp have an impact that is different from simply forcing the other player to lose.

Now, I don't know if it's possible to do that on a 1v1 scale, and frankly, I think that'd be a waste of time to try, since this is about massively multiplayer games.

I think Garumoo's blog post is brilliant, and is rather close to what I've been thinking about the past few days. What about making a game world where two factions fight for dominance, and it quite possible for one side to win and take over a zone (and potentially the whole world), but when they take a city or town or mine, the other faction modifies it's tactics and moves it's base to more stealthy locales? For an easy example, imagine Undercity getting conquered by the humans, and the forsaken take to deeper tunnels in the sewers, staging sneak attacks on the now conquered territory.

Furthermore, when a zone changes hands, change the zone! Change the town to follow the other faction's visual theme; change the quest givers and their quests; change the layout of the town. Thanks to phasing, the technology is probably ready. Plus, if you can see the effects of doing quests, even repeatable ones become a bit more exciting. Take the whole set of quests for the buildup to war against AQ in WoW, and make it small enough scale to fit just a town, and you have people actually seeing the effects of their contributions.

And don't forget the "losers", since they're the ones we're most worried about, right? Give them a secret hideout in the woods next to town, perhaps some secret passages into town, or to out of the zone. Perhaps the hideout contains a vendor who sells magical camoflaging cloaks that allow the user to do something like Nelf shadowmeld only in that zone. Instead of the original quests, build quests around the npc's interrupted plans. Have quests to go out and assassinate enemy npcs, or kill a couple enemy players.
On top of that, perhaps have a quest to kill an enemy player and steal the payload they were carrying for a quest in their new town. Enemy player collecting wood for building new guard towers? Kill him, loot just the wood off his body, and turn it in to build your new hideout. And there's another way of making the losers lose in a meaningful way, without making it ridiculously painful. And if you object to assassinating players, remember that those are quests to assassinate players of the winning faction. Set the rewards right, and as soon as a zone falls, the losing faction will have lots of other players pour in to take advantage of the new quests.

This does have the danger of becoming a world of a dozen different Lake Wintergrasps. In other words, a system where both sides simply switch places regularly, because it's the most rewarding. So you'd probably want to try to strike a balance in rewarding the changing of hands. However, if you set things up in such a way that zones take at least a few days to change hands, I think it would be substantially better than wintergrasp.

Ultimately, this is about the players shaping the world. Not in its entirety, but it'd be a great compromise between WoW and Eve, so to speak. Imo, Eve has been good at letting players shape the game such that the game feels real and dynamic. WoW has been phenomenal at creating the illusion that the game is real and dynamic.

I remember questing in the Grizzly Hills in WotLK, and seeing a herd of horses running around, actually acting like a herd, running in a group. But now I think, if I could, for instance, attack that herd, perhaps with a group of teammates, and drive it through an enemy town to cause distraction and damage, that would be a step up.

I read about Cataclysm, and think that the changes are cool, but then I suspect that the change is ultimately going to be a static change, and eventually everyone will get used to it, and that's a problem. I think about the zombie plague that happened for about a week some time prior to the release of WotLK, and thinking it was really cool to see the world in the grip of actual chaos. It was annoying, and difficult to play my normal way, true, but it was also exciting and more immersive. And when I died to a zombie, I didn't feel like I was hurting from that, because then I got to be a zombie for a while, which was fun in its own right, partly because I was now playing a slightly different game.

Apologies for the long comment, and also for the predominantly WoW-related references, but I figured it was the most likely to be recognized by the most people.
How fitting a subject the day of Aion's headstart.

Everything went well today, maybe too well, since its popularity quickly filled the servers with queue.

Back to topic, i never understood mythic's decisions regarding WAR. Daoc is for me the good way of doing end game PvP, but it looks like mythic threw all that away when they designed WAR.

A never ending battle for a keep, even in a low level battleground like Thidranki was what made Daoc great. Now in WAR you have 10vs10 reset and repeatable mini games called scenarios. imo that killed the PvP. Endgame, well, i didnt last long enough to experience it.

Well, if the PvP has to be "meaningful", with "impact", "changing the world", then the winning side in the war will have to be able to hold only whatever territory they won, without a reset.
But that control doesn't need to be absolute. It should be possible to win a battle, but lose a war. I agree that systems where the progress of PvP is a slippery slope are bad. If all of the meaning is piled into one battle, then the rest by definition become meaningless, and one can't blame people for AFKing out or even ragequitting.

Which means the losing side being disadvantaged for a longer time, being forced to play the underdog for a considerable time. You don't think that would lead to the losers quitting?
Not necessarily. People do love to win, but they also love the story of the underdog. People love the story of the brave rebels fighting the evil empire, the ragtag team training to win the tournament.

It's a delicate balance, and it's not something that even Eve always gets right. It works in alliance warfare, where the crushed remnants of failed alliances regroup under new banners, and yesterday's enemies can be today's friends. But it doesn't work in Faction Warfare, where the Caldari dominance over the Gallente has not sparked asymmetric warfare like CCP hoped. Funnily enough, in the game lore the Caldari tale is the typical tale of the underdog, rising from being an oppressed minority to being the new masters.
On top of that, perhaps have a quest to kill an enemy player and steal the payload they were carrying for a quest in their new town. Enemy player collecting wood for building new guard towers?

What most games miss here is actually meaningful open pvP ambushes.

Take my WoW arcane mage for example. He is T8/9 PvE geared.
Twice a week I do the wintergrasp collect-10-X quest. You can either do it and kill ten 'rats' or kill enemy players how carry them.
(In WoW the killed player doesn't lose his stock, but the winning player gains them. But lets ignore this.)

So I take the quest and search for
alliance players. When I see one I do this:
- Mana Shield
- Frost/Fire Ward
- Mirror images
- Trinket (+599 Spellpower)
- Icy veins (+20% casting speed)
- Berserk (+20% casting speed)
- Arcane Power (+20% Damage)
- Arcane Blast (1.6s, 5k)
- Arcane Blast (1.6s, 11k krit)
- Arcane Blast (1.6s, 7k)
- Victory.

This is probably an extreme example. It demonstrates, however, that an Open PvP game, where the attacker has an extreme advantage, just doesn't work.

This is also very frustrating. For the defeated player and in some way also for the winner. The winner should have some advantage, but it should be minor.

I don't want to drift into examples on how to make such a system. Several ideas come to my mind instantly, but that would make this comment a little bit too long :)
@ Verilazic:

This idea works much better if there are several places in the world where it can happen.

Imagine a world with 10 (or more)cities. Once in a while a fight can be started about who will control the city in the future. The losing faction, can retreat to some caves and play rebel. The winner takes the castle.
Use at least 3 factions (or make it guild based). This way you don't have to worry too much about one side overpowering the other.

By using more than one central city you also circumvent the problem that everybody travels to one place and makes the server crash.

In my perfect game, traveling would be long and somehow dangerous. Thus you wouldn't go from the south of the continent to the north just for one event. This way it is easy to introduce trade and it makes the game much more immersive, while also helping with the whole-server-in-one-location-problem.
Thus you could increase the amount of players per server and thus add even more credibility to the game world. And - by the way- you made an MMO that's different from WoW (!).
Heh, like as long as my triple-comment was, Nils? Arcane mages (and a lot of WoW classes) are a good example of how that wouldn't work out, true. So much so, that it's possible that to have more varied pvp activities, you'd also need to have a different style of combat than WoW, perhaps a slower-paced, more strategic style, though I have no idea what that would be.

However, this is also why I wanted to point out that the ambushing would be encouraged more for the "underdog" team. If you had a decent number of people roaming around a zone, a single ambush would be a tricky thing to pull off and escape with. And it would have the potential to grow into a larger fight, if both sides had more players show up.

Ultimately, my example was supposed to represent ideas with the intention of generating opportunities for numerous pvp encounters throughout a zone, so that the fighting isn't focused only at the keep, but it still feels like the individual player is part of a larger battle, even if they're fighting alone at the moment. A bit like how you might feel in a WoW battleground even if your team isn't around you.

Or at least, that's the goal I had.
@ Verilazic:

I'd also support slower, more strategic combat. Combat where you making the correct decision about what to do next is more important than to do it quick.

This doesn't necessarily remove classes like assasins.

One problem of WoW-like MMOs is that the death penalthy is that minor (sometimes it is smart to die, because it is basically a 1-30s teleport that restores mana and health!)

Imagine this:
The assiassin class is the only class that can kill relatively quickly, but if they die within the next 10 minutes after they used this 'assassin-ability' they lose the ability to use this skill for the next week, if they survive they get a 10min cooldown.

This is brainstormed and the numbers are just examples.

This way you can even have assassins in the game that could kill you quickly, but usually won't do it if they run any danger of dieing in the process of it. Just like it should be. Asassins are now a very strategic element in PvP.

You could also teleport players quite far away from the center of the battle if they die. This way there will be organised teams in the center (at the castle), while the countryside will be populated with 'pugs'.

If you make it so that killing another player takes at least 1 minute, reduce healing to a support role (such that healers cannot make the fight go on forever), and give healers some good abilites instead (support/defensive ablities/strategic ablities like pushing people).

Some battles should take the WoW-style 30minutes, thus players can log in, play a BG, log out. But quite a lot of battles should go on for hours. If the battle itself is fun you don't need the reward-after-30min.

It's also possible to imagine some way to sensible reward taking part in such an event although you log off before it ends. If you want you could make it end at 11pm thus that people don't feel motivated to stay up all night.

Problem is that the industry was (is) so tempted to repeat WoWs succes that they just don't think about how to create a good new MMO, but try to learn from WoW by copy-pasting.

Blizzard made death penalthy low. Ok, let's copy that. Blizzard has only 2 factions, let's copy that.
These people are not game designers, but copy machines.
Hopefully my last comment here :)

The old full-corpse-looting is not necessarily dead.

In WoW your character progresses with equipment, but a new MMO could make it different.

Characters could progress with gaining skills (skill ranks), tatoos (tatoo ranks), spells (spell ranks).

This way you could indeed allow full corpse looting without taking everything away from a player. If the equip is responsible for a power boost of 10% (bad equip), 30%(very good equip) it would make sense to wear good equip if you can afford it (being wealthy has to have advantages).
Clothing could also be more meaningful for just visual reasons.

Players don't necessarily need to be able carry a truck of stuff around with them. Even gold could be lootable.

It all depends on the rest of the game: If you can buy stuff in a city that is worth something, like a house, some shop, or just some deposit at a bank, it wouldn't make sense to carry your wealth around with you. It softly binds you to your city. Encourages you to defent it should it be attacked; estabilishes some emotional binding.

In my opinion equipment should always be nice, but never necessary. Conan was powerful even while naked :).

If (human) enemies always dropped some clothes, this really diminished the problem with full-corpse-looting.

If you couldn't carry 3 complete armor sets around (little bit too heavy), you wouldn't have much incentive to kill people for just their clothes.
If you cannot see the 'level' of your opponent and if ambushing is only a minor advantage, you might be careful and not just attack random people. If you are really good you could still make a living with it.
If there is some bounty system in place where people can place bounties on your head ganking could be reduced to almost nothing.

What I want to conclude with in respect for your next thread, Tobold:

Learning from WoW is alright. But copying is always wrong. I wouldn't start to play the WoW of today. The world is stale and stupid - absolutely unimmersive. Leveling is too easy to be fun. During leveling stories Arthas behaves like a .. maniac? stupid child? total moron?
Hit the charcater limit :)
Second part:

These occasions where he appears just to tell you that he will allow you to escape just this time! His appearance at the Colloseum just to teleport you to Anub'arak. This is childish, uncredible, unimmersive - even if well executed. Why doesn't he destroy the colloseum while he's at it? Why the hell do the horde/alliance build a colloseum in Northrend ?????

Still I play WoW, because it gives me something to do, I have some friends there and it is familiar. I didn't even look at the new MMOs, because everybody says that they are so similar.
Question marks above heads, levels, endgame ..... .. come on!

In my perfect MMO I am lone guy, always making (slow!! progress) whenever I'm logged in. I don't want teleports or super-fast flying. I want the world to not only be huge, but feel huge. I want these icy mountains that take 3 real hours to cross, because you need to avoid some enemies, need to rest after every real time hour, need to prepare to cross them. Because you'd better search for some companions who also want to cross them. Because there are obstacles (and not only 'mobs'). Because it is new every time, as the snow from last year changed the route (randomly generated content). I want a randomly generated dungeon of chaos with infinite levels that becomes harder and harder (ADOM). Every time you wipe you restart one level above.

The number of ideas of how to produce a new MMO are almost endless. Theway to implement them is to employ people who do nothing else, but think what kind of game they want, what they want the players to do and what mechanism they need to implement, thus the players really behave that way. Carrots are great for that purpose, but they are not everything there is.

Pay me a modest sum and I will imagine a completely new MMO for you.
I cannot guarantee that it is a WoW-type success, but I can guarantee that it will sell like AoC at start and retain enough players to produce some money in the years thereafter.
Most importantly, it has the chance and the ambition to be great - in contrast to all copied MMos.
Nils, in view of you writing nine comments on a single thread of mine, and hitting the character limit of Blogger's comment functionality, I think you should reconsider starting your own blog. Called "Immersion'R'Us" or something like that. ;)
You're probably right, Tobold :)
WTB a forum for some of these longer and more involved discussions. You interested Tobold? ;)
@Nils, you're reminding me of a Neverwinter Nights module I played and really enjoyed; it was called A Dance With Rogues. It was the first mod I played that limited me in how I could play in ways that were unfamiliar to me. At first I thought they were annoying, but I came to appreciate the value they gave to certain actions that I used to take for granted.

I know you're just throwing out ideas at this point, but I figured I'd make a contrast anyway. While I wouldn't mind a world that is and feels big, I really want a game world that is alive, and doesn't just feel alive sometimes. I want to be able to wander around and just run into people anywhere I go. The last time I felt that was the early days of vanilla WoW, and thinking back, it wasn't all that special.

I want to fight in a battle, alongside people, and feel like the outcome will lead to something. I want to see the world react to my actions, even if it's by a small amount. If I want to have more of an effect, I'll work together with other people.

I guess in that sense, the social sense, I definitely want the world to be big. And unpredictable. I didn't think as far as randomly generated content; I was just thinking like one day a landslide blocks a popular route through the mountains.
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