PvP Should Never Be a Roadblock

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Our community had some great discussion on the topic of PvP tonight and I feel a little inspired to write on our conclusions. We really really, really do not like PvP designed to eff (other words were used) up other people’s experience in the game. Let me elaborate. In Albion Online the guilds that own the black zones own the best zones. Contrast that to UO where the “best” guilds (read: largest) could own areas of the map, but people can still go somewhere else and truly not be locked out entirely from something they need or want to do.

No PvP system should ever allow players to completely lock other players out of content essential to their basic gameplay or enjoyment. No PvP system should ever promote players being trolls. If people are PvPing to be trolls, and they’re being successful at it, then the game lacks the basic design elements which would negate players having control of their ability to be trolled. In UO, if I was being killed in a cave then I could go find another cave. Someone could be a troll all they want and I had the control to go somewhere else. If I kept going back then it’s my fault. But take away the options and give me only one cave and suddenly the PvP exists only to be a troll and I have no control over being trolled other than logging out. Logging out is not an acceptable gameplay feature.

PvP should exist as a wing or an extension, and never a roadblock. PvP should not cut people out of PvE or Crafting if they do not participate in PvP or belong to the big guilds who dominate PvP. I have always been a proponent of the philosophy that the best PvP games have the best PvE, and they can and should be completely separate from each other. For example, Dark Age of Camelot. When done right — and not ruined by imbalance — they can even influence each other, but rarely intersect.

One of my continuing complaints about Albion Online is that I can never be the best crafter — ever — if I am not in the biggest guilds. By not being in the biggest guild, I will be destroyed by the PvP roadblock. I will never have the best resources. I will hit a wall. That wall is unacceptable.

  • DAoC had DF, which was a PvP zone that could be controlled by large guilds and cut others off from the best gear in the game. In UO a large guild could ‘own’ one of the better farming dungeons and significantly cut everyone else out of that very profitable spot (same for rare ore spawn points). In EVE Corps can control the best farming/gathering regions of space.

    Point being, if you don’t make territory control (or PvP in general) matter, then it won’t and you end up with a PvE MMO that has tacked-on PvP (WAR). That doesn’t work if you are selling the game as having a strong PvP component.

    I agree with you that PvP shouldn’t get in the way in a PvE MMO, but Albion isn’t a PvE MMO, just like DAoC or UO weren’t. If your goal is the be the best crafter (not just a decent one), being able to accomplish that without bumping into the main focus of the game (PvP) would be a pretty massive design flaw IMO.

  • When the focus is PvP, the game should be geared toward it. That doesn’t mean low-pvp oriented crafters/gatherers need to be excluded though.

    EvE deals with this by making that extremely abundant ore (forget the name, maybe veldspar?) that is everywhere, but mostly in high-sec available to all crafters/miners. But it is still used abundantly in even high tier ship production. So even the top Corps want a lot of it.

    At some point though, if a crafter wants to make the best stuff, they’ll have to get into the highest areas of the game. And that generally involves getting into a decent Corp that runs in Nullsec/Wormhole space.

    Won’t be any different on that front in Albion.

  • @Syncaine: There’s a difference between owning one of the best spots and owning the ONLY spot. If I can go somewhere else and still get the same resources, albeit less, then that’s a little more acceptable. But to be locked out completely, without alternatives (even less appealing ones), is an unacceptable hurdle.

    DAoC’s Darkness Falls’ biggest flaw was that imbalance could ruin the otherwise very nice model of blending PvP and PvE. It’s important to always remember, though, that DAoC -WAS- a PvE game. I could be played exclusively as PvE. PvP took place in other areas of the world entirely separate from PvE.

    Bumping into the biggest part of Albion Online’s gameplay — the territory control — is fine with me. I’m okay with that. But being locked out 100% if I’m not in the biggest guilds isn’t.

    @Rawblin: The sentiment seems to be common that ultimately people must join the guilds/corps/etc that control the areas of the game where progress can take place. I challenge the idea that progress should be so linear. Why can’t crafting take place outside the scope of such restraints? It did in UO. It did in SWG. Crafting doesn’t have to be tied to PvP gameplay.

  • Trying to copy eve but failing?

    Those cherished resources should be needed for war machines and PvP related items only, wall, siege engines, maybe certain magic items with team based PvP effects. Other rare resources should be more abundant in PvP areas and give a market advantage but not close people out entirely.

  • I believe that gathering should be dangerous at some point. It’s not a gathering game. If the focus was gathering, growing your crops Harvest Moon style, and someone came and trampled your garden and took your girl that you gave 50 mint leaves to, to gain her affection, then yeah, I’d be pissed.

    But it’s a PvP game and all the PvE aspects of the game are there only to add an element of progression to PvP. You farm silver so you can either Reroll your equipment or purchased equipment/materials you otherwise couldn’t get on your own. You Gather so you can Refine so you can Craft the gear used to either farm silver or engage in PvP.

    If Gathering was made completely isolated from PvP, you would either never find an untouched node, because the bots would get it, or there would be less point to open world PvP, and the world would be more barren.

    There is more than one Black Zone, and I don’t see how this differs from Eve or UO. I do think a larger map, or at least one with more Black Zones, would help.

  • Be careful not to pigeon hole Albion Online into being just a PvP game. I think it wouldn’t be fair to narrow its scope so much. Same should be said for EVE, too. These games are sandboxes. In order for a sandbox to succeed, and in my opinion truly be a sandbox, players must have the freedom to pursue one avenue of play to its fullest.

    I never participated in PvP in UO. I was exclusively a crafter. UO was a crafting game for me.

    I never participated in PvP in SWG even once — and rarely PvE. I was the best crafter on my server. SWG was a crafting game to me.

    I participated a lot in PvP in DAoC, but had many friends and guildies who never did. DAoC was a PvE game to them.

  • It’s a difficult balance. You can go too far in one direction and the materials are inaccessible and the content is gated. You can go too far in the other direction and you have current WoW tradeskills, irrelevant because all materials are so abundant.

    If your game is going to have factions Daoc, Wow), I like zone control and individual/non competitive gathering nodes. This way you are all on the same team regardless of guild and smaller guilds can help and profit from larger guilds work.

    If the game is going to just be guild based (Shadowbane, EVE) I think there are much larger problems with huge guilds than gating crafting materials.

  • They need to design it so that cooperating on a project is more worthwhile/profitable than simply killing a person for what they carry.

    Also, if someone behaves like a bandit they need to suffer the consequences and find themselves unable to access the cities and other privledges of being a citizen.

    Otherwise all you have created is a gankfest.

  • Two good points brought up here by Jenks and Solarbear.

    (1) Guilds, or how a game is designed around guilds and promoting their size, could be the problem.
    (2) Needing consequences.

    Both I agree with 100%.

  • I hate the idea that MMOs have to accommodate a solo player all the way to end game. IMO that’s not the spirit of MMOs.

    To accomplish your goal in Albion, it will require some solid diplomacy. As a crafter, this should come as second nature. There are tons of PvP gilds out there. At least one, would most likely willing enter an alliance with a crafting group, for some concessions.

    Dumbing down PvP rewards to things like gear and titles ruins PvP games. Making PvP rewards impact the world and game keep PvP meaningful. Crafters just have to learn to navigate such a world.

  • Learning to navigate a PvP centric world should make crafting more rewarding too. If you don’t want to, there are tons of games where crafting can be played without involving PvP. Just my opinion. Not all PvP games have to embrace a safe Lane to end game.

  • @JJ Robinson: You’re making some wrong assumptions on both sides. I did not once mention solo play. I said I did not want to belong to one of the zerg guilds. Big difference.

    Your assumption of the other side is also off. Diplomacy does not exist. Zerg guilds have everything they need. Why kill anyone they see? Because they can, and they are rewarded for it.

    If guilds were forced to be smaller units of say 20 people, then I could imagine a guild of warriors needing a guild of artisans to help. But guilds I struggle against are 300+ in size. They have EVERYTHING they need. What if I do not want to belong to one of the mega zergs?

    There isn’t a “PvP centric world” to navigate here. This is guild warfare. Kill or be killed. There is no diplomacy. There is no roleplay. There is no trade.

    I’m not saying I want to coast my way to the top or be solo. I’ll work hard for it and earn it. But to force people into zergs to even play is just as anti-MMO spirit as expecting someone to be able to solo.

    [Note: These issues are not isolated to Albion Online. Albion Online is simply a hyper-contemporary example.]

  • Personally I feel its a little of a bait and switch situation in Albion Online. Their approach of having tiered zones where some zones are non-pvp, semi-pvp, and full pvp is a problem in my opinion in their design. If the game is designed to be full PVP might as well let all new players grow accustomed to the pvp they will face after a few days of grinding. Game should be full PVP from the moment you join the game.

    The problem as it is now, is that If i’m in a small guild, I will be limited to the number of black zones I’ll be able to go into “safely”(basically none at this point). If we form an alliance with a larger guild, at best we’ll get a couple zones to improve our abilities or gather nodes (which I’ll have to fight my guild for) and additionally now I’m forced to either provide for that guild via silver or PVP for them so that we’re able to maintain that alliance. I’m no longer playing the game the way I’d like to play the game which is different for me from when I started.

  • I mean, just because someone played DAoC without PvP’ing doesn’t change the fact that DAoC was a PvP-focused MMO. It’s like if someone only did PvP in WoW, that doesn’t make WoW a PvP MMO. How one person plays a game and how a game is intended to be played by most are two very different things. Same goes for EVE; just because some players don’t want to PvP, doesn’t change the fact that it’s a PvP-focused MMO that basically everything revolves around and works because of the PvP.

    I haven’t played Albion since very early alpha, but it sounds like they are still setting everything up around PvP, so the fact that more successful guilds can gain control and more power makes sense (to a point anyway).

  • I kind of like the idea of limiting guild sizes. Mainly because of my experience with the EU Darkfall launch. Awful Company/Something Awful/Goonsquad/whatever just had a massive amount of people and for a PvP game that is supposedly skill based zerging pretty much negates that. It is definitely a slippery slope though, what number is acceptable and why? Perhaps lowering that bar in turn encourages smaller groups to desire the bar to be lowered more so that their 5 man team has a chance too.

    I can definitely see how it would be frustrating though. You can’t go in there and beat them, you can’t make a deal with them as they are self sufficient, pretty much all you can do is farm money and attempt to purchase the goods you want. The more time consuming route would be to attempt to create an alliance between other smaller guilds that feel the same as you and attempt to overrun the giant guild, though without the proper ingame tools I imagine it would be hard for guilds to sign on to that in the name of a guild that isn’t theirs gaining control of the territory.

    Definitely sounds like the devs have some shit to figure out.

  • @SynCaine: Ah but there is the problem. Why does larger = more successful? I agree, successful guilds should gain control and power. Why is size always the single most important factor? I’ve been among the top crafters in many mmorpgs and never belonged to the largest guild. I’ve been in the most geared PvP guilds and never been the largest guild. I’ve been in the guilds who control just as much territory as any guild and they were never even close to the largest guilds.

    Size =/= success. There are and should be more ways to design around it.

  • Number of players isn’t always the be-all. In EVE Rooks and Kings do things in smaller numbers that allow them to ‘win’ vs much larger groups. In DF1 The Mercs often beat much larger guilds (including Goons) due to player and character skills (via cheating to powerlevel). In DAoC roaming 8s were important.

    But ultimately unless the MMO in question limits how many people can fight on the field (instancing), if one sides just brings overwhelming numbers, that’s likely going to be it. And maybe in terms of actual combat the large zerg isn’t very skilled, but the skill of gathering such a zerg isn’t that easy, and SHOULD be rewarded. If someone can gather and successfully lead 200+ people for long enough to dominate a game, they should win vs people who have a hard time getting 20+ on the field.

    (Not to mention from a developer standpoint, you value the group of 200+ far more than the group of 20+, so you aren’t really motivated to send the group of 200 packing so the 20 sticks around.)

  • That’s why I’m going to play Black Desert Online (among many other reasons). Because PvP is part of the world without taking it over.

  • While I have dabbled enough in pvp through the years to realize I’m not very good at it, I can’t help comparing your comments to real life.

    It sounds like you want lawlessness that has rules and can be controlled. But it’s …cough…lawless. Right? I mean if a gang of 100 with guns took over part of your city wouldn’t your little gang of 10 get slaughtered?

    Hey I’m with you, and mostly why I avoid pvp. Although, just one can kill me. Doesn’t really take 100.

  • The real life analogies are hard to hold up. Cities are held by hundreds and an elite squad infiltrates and wins. Or a single missile from a single drone takes it all out.

    I never, ever, expect my guild of 20 to take on the guild of 300 in guild vs. guild PvP. I’m not making that case. I’m asking why every facet of the game has to be checked against guild size. The answer here is that it’s poorly designed. In plenty of games its not. In plenty of games guild size matters in things where guild sizes matter.

  • The only way PvP can ever really work is if it is intertwined with the PvE and an integral part of the game. Sticking PvP in its own zone and taking away any meaning from it just destroys it completely. This is why PvP in games like GW2 are so bad and by extension made the PvE side of GW2 boring as well since you never had player threats around.

    There are plenty of games out there that are made for those who don’t like real PvP, no reason every single game has to be like that.