Open world PvP

Massively ran a 3 part SoapBox series on why MMOs should abandon raiding. The 3rd part of the series contains links to the first 2 parts.

It’s an interesting read… the main argument comes down to resource utilization and what percentage of the player base takes part.

There is a great quote in the 3rd article about open world PvP:

Raids as a staple in MMOs are, ultimately, just like open PvP: They were something that seemed necessary for a while, something some people liked and a lot of others disliked… and they ultimately are holding the genre back.

And this I heartily agree with.

The kind of PvP I enjoy is battlegrounds style: separate zone, limited numbers, maybe even some objective like CtF. Guild Wars had the best implementation in their Alliance Battles: fairly balanced small numbers (12 on 12) where the fighting occurs in a separate zone. Guild Wars 2’s PvP is more zerg-like since the number aren’t necessarily checked. Plus, GW lets you create a PvP-only character so level and gearing is a non-issue. GW2 up-levels you as well (I think – I’ve only gone into WvW on a level 80).

Even WoW’s battlegrounds are fun – the major downside is the level restrictions are quite large (a decade, at least it was the last time I went in). LoTRO’s PvP is also OK, but since the two sides are totally different and there isn’t any number balancing it can be fairly lopsided.

All of the above PvP implementations (both Guild Wars games, WoW battlegrounds, LoTRO Ettenmoors) are in a separate zone, so when you are in the mood to PvP, go there and get your fill.

But in open world PvP, I’m not sure what the design actually selects for. Between level differences, class differences, gear differences, and possible numerical advantages (lets say outnumbering your target 2 to 1 or more), I’m not sure what comes about from open world PvP other than attracting opportunists and gankers, basically the scumbags of the MMO community.

I’ve seen the argument made that that PvP worlds produce better PvE players. But I don’t see how. What I’ve learned is that being outleveled is a disadvantaged, being outnumbered is a disadvantage, not grinding the same gear quality is a disadvantage, being in the middle of fighting PvE content and being jumped is a disadvantage, and that ranged attackers have a significant advantage in starting fights and running away if things don’t go well for them. None of which helps me in any particular way. Besides, correlation is not causation and it could simply be players “better” at MMO-type games also like PvP, not that playing on an open world PvP server makes them better (where “better” boils down to more progression down end-game content).

Now a RL confession is… I’m older than your average gamer. I’m well into my 4th decade and creeping up on my 5th. 😉 My reflexes aren’t as razor shaped as they… well they probably weren’t ever razor sharp haha. I can play the content well enough but against another person, I react slower, especially initially. If it takes me an extra 0.1 seconds to interrupt or use some critical defensive skill, that might be something I can’t recover from. Imagine I were attacked by my clone except a Horde (enemy faction) version and we both execute the same rotation and skills. Except I am late on a handful of them by a tenth of a second. Yeah.

It’s times like this where I like EVE’s gameplay. It certainly isn’t “twitch” and is more about your planning in advance what modules you fit to your ship. And if someone else does attack you there are multiple avenues for responding: coming back in another ship (basically the MMO equivalent of changing classes), or putting a bounty on them (no real analog in other MMO’s). I also like that EVE lets you stealth (i.e. fit a cloak module) on basically any ship. Granted some cloaking modules will have major drawbacks, like a movement penalty, but many times it is handy to be invisible while gathering intel. In WoW, only a few classes can stealth (rogues and druids as far as I know) and otherwise you can make a potion to do it for 18 seconds… bleh.

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Massively – Jump Puzzles

I saw this post over on Massively, about jump puzzles in MMOs. As I struggled to remember my login info, I thought to myself, hey I have a blog, why not post there? 😉

Anyway, a jump puzzle has to be done “well”, otherwise it isn’t any fun. I remember a jump-puzzle dungeon in Asheron’s Call, either the Jahannan (fire) or Amperehelion (lightning) Vault(s), and the jump puzzle was initially executed terribly. Also, the game had a Jump skill for your character, that you could spend points on and increase. This meant that some chars would over-jump and not be able to do anything about it – literally their minimum jump was too much for some of the jump elements.

The entire experience was very frustrating. Imagine spending at least 15 minutes, sometimes 30 or 45 (due to battles along the way) minutes or more fighting your way into a dungeon, climbing ramps, making a few successful jumps, being elevated high above the floor, partway through the jump section… and then mis-aligning a jump or over-jumping, and falling to your death in the lava (? I remember boiling away so perhaps the dungeon was the Jahannan Vault). Or being a victim of lag when you were maneuvering slightly… As an early MMO, Asheron’s Call also featured item loss on death, so after failing you then had to decide if spending the time to get back to your body to loot your stuff was worth it. After running back from the nearest lifestone you rezzed at, or perhaps summoning yourself if you tied to the portal.

Frustration: off the charts.

The devs caved and changed the geometry of the various tunnels and planks, added stoppers and other elements that would catch you from over-jumping (as I recall you still had to align yourself fairly accurately). This was widely received with joy.

Anyway, in a modern MMO, that doesn’t punish you on char death with item loss… well no this mechanic would still be very frustrating. It all depends on how difficult the jump puzzle is. I suppose I wouldn’t mind if it was on the easy side, and screwing up didn’t cost you too much time to redo. I have yet to encounter a jump puzzle in the current crop of MMOs; perhaps they aren’t as bad as the one I remember from a decade ago!