Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Why is there no loss in PvE games?

In Monday's short EVE post, a reader commented that he'd play EVE if there was no PVP, and got several replies how EVE would be impossible without PvP, because PvP basically was the reason for the rest of the game. I do agree insofar as that if you simply took out PvP from EVE, it wouldn't work. But I do think that an economy in a virtual world could work without PvP, as long as there is another form of gear loss.

Sometimes I even wonder whether some of the fans of PvP are not actually fans of the design which has the possibility of losses more than they are fans of PvP itself, because usually they disdain the kind of positive sum PvP games like WAR or WoW have. Somehow the MMORPG market has evolved in a way where the losing your stuff nearly exclusively happens in hardcore PvP games. I don't really understand why that is so. Why would losing gear due to death from another player be any more acceptable than losing the same gear due to death from an AI monster?
Maybe because PvP is generally considered a choice, even in games like EVE, whereas PvE is sort of the default way of leveling. So you choose to go into PvP and take the risk of losing everything, versus 'having to' level up in PvE and not necessarily wanting to risk it. Although even in EVE, you take that risk whenever you undock really, even if you're going on missions.
Tony's pretty much nailed it. Unless you're playing very specific types of games (FPS's come to mind), the baseline gameplay of the majority of games is PvE. PvP is optional, and thus you can choose when not to 'risk' yourself or your items.

Also, with the popularity growth in gaming (mostly MMOs) amongst the non-gamer (now "casual gamer" it seems) population... you have people who are not accustomed to the "risk versus reward" structure that many of us started gaming and knew as the default. More laid back and socialization oriented gamers ("Mom", "Dad" and "Uncle Jeff" who only play because 'we can play together!' epitomize this type of gamer) don't want to "work hard for X time just to lose it to a monster". Much less of an issue now, but a big influence I think, is that players were tired of losing gear and other important/valued items to the "lag monster".

In Ultima Online (I think we can all acknowledge what an impact it had on the world of MMOs?), if you died to a monster, the monster could then LOOT your corpse! So not only could you lose your items to disconnecting during a monster fight (and your body decays before you get back to it), but then other players could loot you, and even the badly AI'd monsters would steal your stuff. Other players could also then kill the monster, and loot your things from that monster.

...I think that's enough rambling.

I haven't played EVE because it's simply not the flavor of game I want to play. However! I would never suggest removing PvP from it. From the friends I know who play, it is the heart of why they enjoy it.
MMOs, just like politics have split into two halves: Left and right.

One the on had side are is WoW/EQ and on the other side UO/EVE.

On the one hand side are is levels, PvE, themepark, no loss, ...

On the other hand side are skills, PvP, sandbox, loss, ...

Just like in politics this doesn't make any sense; but that has never stoped humans from creating two parties in their mind.
I wouldn't want play a game where making a stupid decision causes me to lose progress or lock myself out of effective future progress.

It's a friggin game! I like it challenging, but well, I want to be able to solve is with playing around, messing up and tryubg again - without suffering loss for trying stuff and well, for PLAYING the game. I don't want to have to worry that my powerlevel drops off unless there's a gear reset, I don't want to have to worry that I cannot do stuff I solved before anymore, just because I fucked up somewhere else.

There's enough permament loss to deal with in the real world, don't want it in the games I play.

I know other people have other interests, but that's just my preference.
because an AI monster is a whole lot more predictable than a PvP player.

In that way after some loss I can formulate a better strategy for the same monster next time. People don't behave that predictably.

It really doesn't matter how much I play pvp, no amount of strategy can cover the fact that my brain doesn't handle the unexpected well.
Great point, and like a sheep I have to agree with Tony as well.


this: "I wouldn't want play a game where making a stupid decision causes me to lose progress or lock myself out of effective future progress."

is incorrect, at least pertaining to EvE. In fact I am not aware of a game that works like this.

There is a huge misconception about EvE it seems. Think of losing your ship exactly like repairing gear in WoW.

Its a gold-sink. The difference is that you have a risk-reward management system. You can take more weapons/bigger ship out to increase your power, but then risk losing more money.

NEVER will this set back your character's progress. Unless you foolishly put all of your money into one big ship.
And by that last point I don't mean your "progress" per se will be set back. You'll never lose character progress.

The only thing you can lose is money, just like in WoW. The difference is the option of how much you risk losing.
@J. DangerouS
Of course for the average player in EVE your progress is pretty much measured in money once you train up the basic skillsets. So losing money in EVE is losing progress. It's only in the 'end game' of 0.0 space corp warfare where progress starts being measured in territorial control rather than money.
I think you have to look at it like gambling.

In PvP, as with gambling, people simply play differently when there is nothing on the line. They play recklessly with no fear of loss, as if they don't take it seriously. Sure, it might be easier to win, but you cannot feel any satisfaction in defeating someone who is no worse for the loss and knew that going in.

PvE would be like playing poker against a very predictable computer player, where you know which of just a few possible hands he might have. Based on how he bets, any semi-intelligent player should be able to game the system. If you add higher stakes, that does not change the AI, you are still doing all the same things expecting to win easily.
One reason to avoid item loss is the negative feedback loop. You make a mistake, wipe and lose some items. If your original items weren't enough to complete the encounter at your skill level, you certainly won't complete it now. Enough negative progression just might cause people to ragequit.
@Hirvox: If wipes could cause item loss, we'd likely see much more loot dropping to compensate and an expanded crafting system.
@Klepsacovic (& Hirvox)

That's correct. I've run into people on WoW with red gear and without the money to pay to repair it.

Compare this to EVE where if you lose your only ship the game gives you a new one.

In both cases you're forced to go out and grind some low-level stuff (missions or mining). But your character hasn't lost any progress.

And, yes, in EVE it is more than possible to lose your ship running a PVE mission.
I agree with your idea about loss. If item repair actually required materials, if items broke and were unrepairable, if repairs required special NPCs or actual players with a repair skill, then you would have the makings of a real economy.
@Tobold's question: "Why would losing gear due to death from another player be any more acceptable than losing the same gear due to death from an AI monster?"

Because its way to hard to actually write a functioning AI that are on the same level as a PC player. Usually said AI's just cheat to provide said "challenges".
In both cases you're forced to go out and grind some low-level stuff (missions or mining). But your character hasn't lost any progress.
How so? In both WoW and Eve, the gear partially determines the player's progress. If the player isn't like Mute or Gevlon, losing that gear excludes him/her from some of the content. While one may get that newbie ship for free when you dock with a pod in Eve, an average player won't be able to complete even a Level 1 combat mission with it.
And nobody mentions that if you are seen in a decent ship you will be promptly wardecced and basically locked in station until the griefers, I mean PVPers decide to cancel the wardec. I played for 3 years to get to the point where I could fly cool ships and afford to replace. Then spent the remainder of my subscription time under wardec. Can't wait until someone makes a game where Highsec is actually secure. Feel free to flame, I am not paying $15 a month for that crap.
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