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A little horn-tootin’ about PvP

Posted by Chris Jones
On April 11th, 2006 at 12:12

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Posted in Cyberpunk MMO, Games

Lauren at Mystic Worlds made a good point about decoupling PvP or PvE from MMOs and observing what happens to the game/world:

You could erase PVP from WOW tomorrow and it wouldn’t technically prevent a single player from reaching the end-game. So even in a game based on the lore of a faction conflict remains technically viable without said conflict and more importantly to my point, PVP. However, you can’t do the same thing in reverse. Removing PVE from WOW would render the game useless. Not a single dungeon can be accessed and no professions learned. WOW, like most of the other MMORPGs, is nothing without PVE.

WoW, EQ, SB, and AC depend entirely upon PvE for advancement. EQ2 and DAOC allow experience and advancement through PvP, but that is a pathological play style for levelling. Arguably, removing the PvE content and replacing it with purchaseable items, ala Guild Wars, is an alternative that could work for EQ2 and DAOC. Guild Wars is a special case, with both PvE and PvP playstyles, where an exclusively PvP playstyle lives in arenas, while a PvE character can participate in both games.

I would hope that my partial design for a cyber-punk GITS:SAC-influenced MMO (GITS:SAC MMO design (revised), Cyberpunk MMO rules (first draft)) would provide a game that lets both PvP and PvE players participate and advance on an equal footing. In particular:

  • The game does not use experience points or reward killing except where it fulfills mission objectives.
  • Skills are obtained through purchase, as mission loot, or mission rewards, and increased through use (practice).
  • Advancement through ranks (levels) is based on successful missions, completing optional mission objectives, working well with a team, as well as other criteria.

Players who wished to exclusively play in PvP missions (when opponents are available) could choose to do so, while players who wanted PvE for their entire career could never have to PK once. PvE is further defined such that it is not exclusively PKing, but also includes team-versus-team contents, such as capture the flag, base defense, races, and timed events. I envisioned a mechanic where, when someone wants to play PvP but no opponents are ready, NPCs fulfill those roles until players are available to be added to the mission.

In particular, I was looking for ways to move the end-game to the beginning of the game, deemphasizing advancement (your missions only get tougher as your rank goes up) and presenting content that encourages group play. As a side-effect, I have a system that moves away from xp and instead bases advancement, in part, on the quality of play instead of quantity of kills. A second goal was to find a way to make every player character useful, even newbies, in fulfilling missions, whether it be surveillance or combat.

Not all of my ideas translate to a medieval fantasy game easily, especially since we’ve been trained into accepting a Diku-style game as the One True Way to fulfillment. I would hope that some designer is willing to take a chance on different styles of play, consider ways to acknowledge success with or without combat, and see that this is a possible path to abstracting PvE and PvP.

3 Responses to “A little horn-tootin’ about PvP”

  1. Technocrat Says:

    First of all, Dan Rubenfield’s comments were a very welcome breath of fresh air! Heh, finally, a developer saying things that every developer should have been doing all along! Unfortunately, while some devs may heed Dans warnings, many will not and the genre will suffer because of it. If that weren’t bad enough, PC MMOG developers seem to be totally clueless when it comes to exploiting commonly available hardware technology! Forever obsessed with dominating the lowest-common-denominator part of the market, they ignore the high-end gamer as a matter of practice…shameful. Oh well, maybe by 2010, or so…

    Your quality of play=advancement idea is intrigueing. I look forward to hearing more about this.

  2. alaph Says:

    I’m starting to sound like a broken record around here.

    Just look at the EvE model. PvE ‘COULD’ be removed.

    Your writings are more and more convencing me that the real problem is a leveling system. These systems make games too linear, too forced, too segregated.

    However to be fair Im doing alot of cognative dissonance…..

  3. Tayman Says:

    It’s amazing how often overlooked some gameplay option are. In Dark Age of Camelot (pvp servers) you could actually level without fighting mobs. You were able to obtain experience from killing others.

    On the surface, this sounds like an easily exploitable choice, but Mythic made sure that you weren’t able to obtain more than x amount of xp from the same person in one day.