Monday, 23 May 2011

In their world, everyone is a winner

In my recent post about DAoC2, I mentioned that if DAoC 2 were to ever appear, while I think it would be very successful, I don’t believe that it would be a WoW beater and in fact neither will any RvR or PvP based MMORPG ever. So what’s my reasoning behind this?

It’s really quite simple. People don’t like to lose. 

Games were not created to favor the loser. It is strange to think people are sitting in video game design classes and dreaming of games that punish the victor, even if those designers are not the best gamers. Especially as games become more involved and advanced, those playing will spend days or even weeks working past what is giving them trouble.

In a PvE centric game like WoW it’s completely possible to play the game for years and always win. You will clear the dungeon, beat the bosses and emerge victorious. Even if learning new raid content and having to spend a few days wiping on a boss, you can be assured that you will eventually beat it to a pulp. No matter how difficult a particular PvE challenge is, a player knows they have a 100% chance of beating it should they put the time and effort in. You also know that you will have it on farm status at some point in the near future. Whether you win or lose is entirely down to you.

PvP and in particular RvR is very different. They might not like to admit it, but even the biggest epeen waving prick loses fights in RvR and bloody often too. I know because I’ve seen them lose :P Situations will arise that are impossible to win, it doesn’t matter how well you play or how well you’re prepared, you will lose and there’s nothing you can do about it. At some point your elite warband of doom will ride round a corner and straight into 4 warbands of OMFGZERGDOOM from the enemy faction and BLAM! You lose, simple as that. Sure, you can put up a good fight, get some kills, stay alive a long time and perhaps claim a moral victory, but it will still boil down to you respawning. Battles and campaigns will be won or lost and whilst you can influence the outcome, you cannot decide it with 100% certainty.

That huge mass of casual players that in reality bulk out the big name game’s subscription fees don’t want the results of their valuable gaming time taken out of their control. They want to consistently achieve and have a sense of progress; they need to be in control. They log in, do their daily quests and log out, safe in the knowledge that they’ve taken a step further towards item A, B or C. They do a dungeon, they want item X, but if they don’t get it they know if they go again and eventually they will. And hey, they still got a token/plaque/whatever, so no time was wasted, the winning end result is inevitable. They don’t want to log in and get their arse kicked for an hour and come out of it with nothing and have no guarantees that this won't happen again tomorrow, or every day for ever...  where’s the fun in that? What a waste of their precious time and I don't mean that sarcastically at all, because yes time is precious. And while I say this regarding casual players, it also applies to a great many more hardcore gamers, they will quite often be even more demanding of constant and reliable progress. What they are winning is relative to their different goals in-game and the time and effort associated varies, but the expectation of consistent winning crosses the boundary of casual to hardcore players.

Whereas the dedicated RvR gamer is far more comfortable with just taking part in the challenge itself. They of course will also be interested in character progression and winning their campaign, but they will also revel in those moral victories where the only reward is a smile, a bit of epeen bolstering and perhaps some banter. To play RvR games for a long time means you must have accepted defeat and enjoy what may turn out to be impossible challenges. Perhaps they are playing for the fun of the fight itself and the utterly valueless epeen internet glory.

I don’t mean to imply that the RvR gamer is better than PvE gamers in any sense, it’s just people have a different set of desires, levels of patience and just what they’re willing to accept and enjoy in life. The majority of people want to win and given the choice between two good games where one supplies reliable victory, but the other you are only able to influence a result, then obviously more people will opt for the fun victory. For most people that question would be a total no-brainer.

Just look at EVE, a game that is rampant with RvR in the form of player run Corporations battling each other for territory and power. EVE is an extremely well made, very high quality and all round excellent game. On the pure quality stakes I would say it can comfortably stand next to any other MMO. It also has regular FREE expansions. Yet, it isn't even vaguely close to WoW's sub numbers. It's just too harsh for most players. You can get your arse kicked, have everything you own destroyed or stolen and the perception amongst non-EVE players is that this happens all the time and there's nothing you can do to stop it. Which is potentially true, it's the nature of these type of games and as EVE's infamous history shows, no Corporation is invincible... That's a horribly risky style of gameplay for most people. The masses want their win and in WoW, RIFT and other PvE centric games everyone is a winner!

So then, what'll it be for you? The taking part or the winning?

Me, I like a bit of both.


  1. I love you for doing this article, a wee bit long to explain a simple concept though. :P

    I think however, that like most people out there I'm in the category of...

    "I hate losing, BUT winning is only savory when I can enjoy it with friends and guildmates."

    This mentality of mine is probably one of the reason I despise playing chess, regardless if I win or lose, it just feels like a banal and empty victory just to sate the ego.

    Sad part is not many people know how satisfying team-play is in the MMO landscape, its always me me me me, so they usually hand you a victory in a silver platter. At least that's the way WoW works right? (correct me if I'm wrong)

    From this perspective you can still see why WAR holds a special place in others, and it also explains why it refuses to die. EVE is probably in the extreme of the the RvR spectrum, a wee bit too extreme for most of us probably.

    What is frustrating however is that Mythic doesn't capitalize on this cohesive team-play aspect in the Open RvR. E.g. make BOs more easily defendable by small groups, change them into mini-claimable outposts for guilds for bonuses/upgrades, etc.

    If only they could fix the campaign. This gem of a game needs more love than its getting. :(

  2. lol oh dear, it is a bit longer than I thought.. But look at the time I posted it, my bad for sitting up writing when I shoulda been sleeping. :D

    That's a good point to add regarding MMOs, it's winning alongside friends for most you'd think, otherwise it would be single player games all the way.

  3. Beating the computer in SP (RPG) is fun for 10-15min, that's why I manage to play Dragon Ago 1 & 2 for 2h in total.. In multiplayer (MMO) its fun for a bit longer. Aion lasted 3w, Rift 2months or something..

    PvE games is probably lots of fun for those who likes it, for me? noo.. Not in the long run.
    When I do PvE I want constantly progression and always move forward, so I would need a new Tier of dungeons and items to get every month or so.
    In a PvP game all fights are "new", even if its the same people and classes I'm facing the fight is never the same.
    Boss encounters got a tactic that works 100% of times, its just a matter of everyone doing their thing. Fights against humans you need to know what you are good at and try to use it, use it fast and change fast if its not working. Choices and change, pay attention and know what other in group is thinking.
    Its not "run away when he is on 50%", "don't get knocked away".
    I don't mind a bit of PvE in my PvP game tho. ToVL is still the best dungeon I done, it would be better with less bugs and so but the fights mechanic is good and tight. More fun and challenging overall then any of the Rift dungeons I did (but I missed one T2 and everything above that so I might missed a something good).

    And ofc, my epeen grows alot more after killing a good group then after a mob.. And how you feel after a victory is important. What's even more important for me is how you feel after a loose. Thing is, in PvE you just keep doing it until you win. In PvP might never get the chance of that revenge and never get the chance of showing who is best again, that's what I like and that's what makes every battle important.

  4. But ofc, I'm only playing game so boost my epeen and then slap it around in people faces... And that is working alot better in PvP then PvE based games and its horrible in SP games, screen gets so messy...

  5. I say it in a little bit different way..but in general it's the same like you've said:
    In PvE you only die when you are doing something wrong.
    In PvP/RvR you can die even though you are doing everything correct.

    And many people just can't cope with losing, especially when they aren't doing anything wrong. So the RvR/PvP isn't that appealing to the masses of players.

  6. In RvR you get slapped untill you like it.

    This realization scare most people, "Oh what may others think!" and then proceed to try to hide their newfound personal traits with PvE,
    even tough it is the equivalent of having an one sided S/M adventure with a blowup doll.

    Others accept it as an natural aspect of life and show up every now and then for som casual slapping and fun.
    It might be with ye olde group that know the routine, it might be solo or even with a bunch of complete strangers,
    as long as there is the occasional slap when they want it they will continue to show up.

    ...And then you have the needers, the literally throbbing epeens posting on the forums "Haha, we slapped you good!", "Noo! We slapped you better!"
    which eventually boils down in to a promise of harder, faster, longer, stronger hardcore style of mutual slapping, just like so:

  7. "That huge mass of casual players that in reality bulk out the big name game’s subscription fees don’t want the results of their valuable gaming time taken out of their control"
    - I think this is false. I know this is anecdotal evidence but here it goes:

    Im a leading officer in Blade and Quill, a large casual guild on Karak Norn (same server as Bootae and KF) and from my own experience I would say that RvR centric games like WAR can have a large player base of casual players as long as they can compete some of the time.

    A bit of guild history to illustrate my point:

    Back before the sov gear patch (1.3.6) most of our premades could compete in a small scale environments (6-12 vs 6-12) against Unnamed, you guys from KF, HoB, Tainted, Moonlapse, Legion you name it. Yea we would lose to No Manner and the cheats from Orz but you cant win them all.

    That changed with 1.3.6, now we had to have high end dps and healers in the premades just to stay in the fights and our playing-a-few-hours/nights-a-week members suffered. But our guild and members still stayed in the game and hoped for better days.

    Then the big 1.4 patch(Doomflayer and Warpforged). After 1.4 went live we got our best 6 man premade together and we didn’t stand a change against no name destro players. The guys we normally could go toe to toe with just faced rolled our premade and wbs.

    Then a shit load of our players, me incl, unsubbed.

    I agree that WAR and RvR centric games aint made for the WoW/PvE crowd, but there are a lot of casual RvR MMO players out there and they "just" want to be able to win from time to time.

    Konfuzfanten of BnQ.

  8. Konfuzfanten, I think the thing is your casual RvR players are not the same people as the bulk of those millions playing WoW. By playing, sticking with and enjoying WAR they have by default accepted win and lose. Undoubtedly you can casually enjoy WAR and RvR, but your guild and mine are not reflective of the majority, we are the minority defined by the game we are playing. We are not the casual WoW PvEer. I'd say anyway..

  9. Actually Losing in PvP isn't all that bad as long as you know you still had a chance to win in the first place.

    PvP Losing doesn't work when it is strictly one-sided, which = not fun for both parties.

    Otherwise how could you explain the popularity of FPS games, if you didn't have a chance to win or influence the outcome in the first place?

  10. Difference with FPS games is normally they have even sides. In RvR with DAoC and WAR you cant ever be sure of even numbers, which is why the third realm in DAoC worked so well to counter balance things.

  11. [first poster here]


    Well, that is the nature of the flawed Open RvR (discussed earlier) in these types of games. The zerg is always expected to win, meaning your team doesn't have a chance to win in the first place, unlike in scenarios with premades. But when you do win with the smaller team the ecstasy and gratification are immense.

    Giving BOs more chokeholds (at most 2) would do wonders for group vs zerg defence.

    Its also worth pointing out that in FPS games even with even sides skill is everything and a single person who knows the terrain and reacts quickly can completely decimate an entire team.

  12. I played WAR for two years (still on the fence about going back) and loved every minute of it. I liked the small town atmosphere and the fact that everyone knew everyone else. The big draw was just the way everyone could just join up as a group on the spot. There were no barriers. It used to be that lower level/lesser geared characters would get protection from players with higher RR.

    That kind of attitude wasn't like anything in other games. It kind of took a hit of late but may come back.

    But yeah, I think you are right about the win/lose situation. The majority of RVR/PVP casual players just like to hang out with like minded players and just have fun, do a bit a game gossip etc. The winning and losing aspect has to take a backseat because otherwise it would just drive anyone crazy.

    Still even the most casual of rvr/pvp players would be labeled hardcore by the average gamer. And I can't say they are wrong about that.


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