Monday 17 October 2011

Punching Ewoks in the prostate and an idea from WAR

OK so here’s a conundrum… I like playing on PvP servers in faction based MMO games. PvE servers annoy the turd outta me and I much prefer the tension a full PvP server provides, but I also loathe the retarded sub-humans from the “pwned u gay!!111 cult of twats that infest every PvP server. You know the ones, those mouthy pricks that bring 5 mates to gank lowbie soloers, but then get all shitty when we respond to help and wipe the floor with them since they can’t cope with even odds. Particularly rude and shitty it seems, if you retaliate by following them across the server and farming them in total silence non-stop for 2 hours as we used to do when helping people in RIFT. :D Anyway, it’s a medical fact that they’re all prize wankers in real life, every single one. They should all be dumped on Pitcairn Island and crossbred with syphilitic goats.
Now, because I tend to level quite fast and play with mates it’s not actually a big problem for me personally, but over the years of gaming I have regularly had to go help lower level people who’re getting shafted. I’ve known many good friends that for whatever reason level slower than most of us and because of that they end up being constantly ganked by high levels in lowbie zones. This has led to decent people quitting games because they just can’t be arsed with the hassle. So the whole thing does just irritate me, it’s a shitty situation created by lazy development when it comes to combining PvP with the levelling process. Plus, I don’t spend my time with Jeremy Kyle reject chav scum in real life and I’d rather  not share my virtual oxygen with the internet equivalent either.
So you might think I would be better off on those rare beasts; the PvP/RP server, with theoretically a more stylish and classy atmosphere. Alas no. At the same time whilst I’ve got nothing against roleplayers, I can’t really be arsed with it and my characters will often have stupid names, so a PvP/RP server isn’t really an option. Plus I gather those servers generally are no better.
Where then should I play?
I honestly don’t know anymore. Of course I could do PvE, but seriously, PvE servers infuriate me. The moment I see a member of the opposing faction farming mobs next to me, but I don’t have the option of attacking them, pfffft, all immersion and atmosphere is killed instantly. I don’t necessarily want to always attack them, but I least what us to both have the option of doing so. Imagine playing SWTOR… you’re there with your big bad super evil Sith Warrior punching Ewoks in the prostate and generally being evil, but then you’re only able to watch as Loke Skyyywalker merrily kills Imperial soldiers right next to you and then skips off singing about unicorns and flowers. For me that situation would make the game feel very sterile. I don’t particularly want to be role-playing and so on, but I do want a bit of the sensation that puts the RPG in MMORPG.
And this is where I think WAR got it very, very right, yet a little bit wrong. WAR’s tier system splits the game-world into 4 level bandings. I’ve gone blank on what it is since it got updated but it’s roughly 1-12, 13-27, 28-39 and then 40, albeit with a little cross over between bandings where you can access both tiers. Now, if you enter a PvP flagged area of a zone that your character is too high for… BWOCK! The game turns you into a chicken, with all the power and survivability a chicken has. This is brilliant in that it allows players to do their XP thing without max level players turning up en mass to gank the poor lowbies, yet still allows for that tension and combat between people of relevant levels. So yes you can of course still be ganked by people within your level banding, but that’s fine, the only advantage they might have is numbers and that is something you can sort out just by grouping or calling for help. It stops a few pricks driving people away from the server and allows for a more competitive and fair PvP environment. It also allows for meaningful XP gain from PvP.
Where WAR got it wrong with the tiers is quite a big subject, but the main ones are that it was too restrictive on the overall content available at higher levels and it also meant at times certain tiers would be very quiet if the latest wave of players had moved past it, which in a population reliant game like WAR, that’s a problem. Yet regardless of those issues, the actual core concept of putting bandings onto zones to ensure fairer PvP is sound. It’s just the application of that concept that needs work, which I think is quite simple really…
Have the game’s zones split into bandings and if a player enters a zone they are too high for the game automatically scales their level and stats down to match the relevant level banding. Use preset stat levels for each class that are just under what would be the maximum amounts attainable for someone properly within that banding (a slight disadvantage to account for their wider range of abilities). Gear, etc would be irrelevant for a high level player in lower zones, so that if they want to go play with the lowbies then they can and the game automatically levels the playing field.
I think this adaption the Tier system from WAR could make for a much better PvP experience throughout the levelling experience and could reap further benefits at max level by extending the value and lifetime of earlier content. Sure, it won’t stop twats being twats, some folks will never take a fight on if the odds are even vaguely fair, but it would at least give people a bit more of a fighting chance. Which as these are games and meant to be fun, surely that’s no bad thing?
PS: This in could also benefit the PvE content in those zones as if done correctly it would stay relevant and not be something high levels just blast people through. Dungeons for example could actually be kept worthwhile through token rewards that scale to your natural level, giving them relevance no matter your level and who you choose to group with. As well as not having to gimp lowbies XP when grouping with their high level mates.
What do you reckon?


  1. PvE could benefit from "world pvp". But short term thinking kicks in and people go "no wtf, they will gank and pwn me!"

    The realization that there is no adventure if nobody can harm you and mobs cannot kill you when you go to toilet (they die to autoattacks or damage reflection in by far too many MMOs nowadays)... when there is nothing to lose, no pain, no gain.

    Going out of my house I might get killed by a brick from the roof or run over by a car. In MMOs today I would get an achievement, a goody bag and a kiss and experience the incredible mental pain of respawning with a repair bill of some 20 cent.

  2. The "no wtf, they will gank and pwn me!" isn't really short term thinking as much as a statement of sad and resigned fact. It's an expression of gathered wisdom, wisdom that wasn't in any way worthwhile or pleasant to gather.

    If worldPVP was ever, ever, EVER in any way balanced or actual pvp rather than backstabs from stealthed and/or bands of high level players, it would actually be a world worth occupying. However, 99% of all the worldpvp you will ever get in any game is you versus a play which you are statistically and factually not able to hurt, whereas a sideways glance from him will log you out and charge your account twice for even trying.

    Having said that, I feel that this is mostly a remnant of lacking game design as Bootae describes. Especially in war where you actually have stats and levels scaling depending on zone, there is no reason why the entire game shouldn't be available for any character at any time. Add in scaling rewards, time dependant ones at that, and you have an automatically balancing system that could keep any number of zones populated pretty much 24/7. The system wouldn't be perfect at first, but by god even at launch it would beat a current system where you've actually implemented tires and scaling, but then just end up funneling everyone into the 400 vs 200 people fights that's the only real final tier action one seems to be able to get.

    Sigh. WAR is just the game with the best pvp-feeling ever, a ton of impressive ideas...that always lacked somewhat in execution and that never got the updates, fixes and maintenance required. It'll never stop making me sad that there was such potential just wasted.

  3. GuildWars2 will have this scale up/down mechanic .. its called side kicking..

  4. Crikey, that's the first thing I've heard about GW2 that I actually think is a really good idea and a genuine benefit to PvP.

    Combined with no sub fee it has now has 2 selling points for me :D

  5. 3 Surely?

  6. I still haven't seen any server rulesets, think its about time they release em, even the most " I don't pve raaah" people I know are voting for pve server, I will never be on a pvp server like rift anymore, I would love a war type pvp server..... Sooo EA gief server ruleset noawwww.

  7. Durt.... you just had to go there. Bloody kids game for kids of kids.

  8. One thing not touched on which WAR does really well is the learning curve in it's bandings. Each tier steps up it's complexity and mechanics to prepare players for the "end game".

    In tier 1 there are just BOs, tier 2 we get the introduction of keeps (albeit with balsa wood doors), tier 3 we get bigger zones with more variety in terrain and inner and outer doors. All building up to tier 4. All the time with the aim of aiding folk to become better players.

    There's a lot of thought gone into it's design and I take my hat off to them. Admittedly since 1.4.1 it's all gone a bit tits up with the renown ranks but you can't criticise the original blue-print.

    I think once you reach the end game you shouldn't need or want to take that character back into the learning bands. The problem WAR has had is keeping people interested in the end game. It's not grown sufficiently. Not in it's campaign modal and certainly not in it's content. To keep it succesful for long term players (which is what MMO players are) you need to keep things fresh.

  9. Yea .im not really a fan of the art direction they went with the asura .. some of the early concept art was fantastic .. very scary .. ugly troll like looks.. then they burped out what Durt linked to .. if I had to pick a thing bout GW2 that is a negative to me.. its the art direction for the Asura .. otherwise i think its shaping up to be a fantastic game for me .. (these days I really can only play at a casual level at best, I simply don't have time anymore to grind hours away)

  10. Bump! I have actually had the same idea quite a couple of times when thinking of "how to improve WAR without spending any money" - this basically being mythics situation with this game and therefore the best we can hope for.
    Recently I have jumped in to look at my "main" Zarubert, a BW happening to be my first MMO-character ever to reach max level, me being altoholic and all that. And for exactly that reason only rarely played since he dinged forty: BAM, instakill with basically every class I bump into in basically any situation: RR100 killed T4 for me, no way will I ever want to experience that!
    So what I do is play alts, try out the destro counterparts to my favorite order classes (<3 the squiggies! ultra-<3 my shammy!) - and every time once I happen to reach T2: ghosttown all around. Mythics design decisions in the last two years force me to ignore, say 2 thirds of the overall number of zones, because T2/T3 are just too boring to play my way through them. Again keeping me out of T4, even with all the increased renown now implemented for those tiers.
    Given that mythic already has a bolstering system in place for lower-level characters, it must be really, really easy to implement this. and I feel fairly competent/confident in stating this, code-monkeying for my daily bread myself.
    One can just hope somebody at mythic reads your blog.

  11. The list of mistakes WAR made are numerous and epic, but dividing up their playerbase so much was one of them.

    The idea of being "auto-sidekicked" up in level if you go to a higher level PvP zone is a good one, and is something that should be more obvious now that so many games have figured out sidekick-type systems (City of Heroes being the first).

  12. The difference with Boot's suggestion is it automatically levels players down when entering lowbie zones. Not just an optional feature when grouped with a lowbie. The systems in place in games at the moment only link it to being grouped which does nothing to stop high lvls screwing games over.


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Half man half pixel. Music obsessive, likes a drink, occasional bastard.