Thursday, 24 January 2008

On the Impact of PvP

Tobold and Syncaine (and I will openly admit I haven't come across his blog before) have both made a post on so-called "impact pvp", pvp that affects the world in meaningful ways. The general conclusion from both is you can't have "impact pvp" and successful pve in the same game.

I'd like to disagree. I think that there isn't such a game at the moment, but that there could be. It would need a complete paradigm shift from current game design though.

Firstly: multiple factions would probably be needed. As in, 5 or 6 distinct factions, which have allegiances and enmities. These can quite happily be mutable by player actions, but there needs to be locations you can go to which are flagged 'friendly'. Zero-sum the system so that each faction is always flagged friendly with at least one other faction so that there are a several varied places you can go to without getting ganked by enemies. Let people migrate from faction to friendly factions via some kind of rep function. Have capturable locations, etc. Something for pvpers to do. Have raid zones that are defended/guarded by factions, something for pve-ers to do. Also, something for them to work together on.

Secondly, regular resets of the server. This may seem a biggy, but if its written into both lore and mechanics, it should be fine. Focus on titles, something everyone seems to be implementing these days, and other intangible rewards. You can even have tangible rewards if you want.

Thirdly, a low level cap. If you, as a level 5 newbie, are wandering around when suddenly a level 568 elite pvper comes along, you have major issues and might quit. If your level cap is 20, and you design the scaling so that the level 5 still has a chance (if not a huge one), and a group of level 5s can almost certainly take down a single 20, you don't end up with the 'I was ganked, I'm going to quit' issue, especially as you can level up relatively quickly to be the same level, have the same power level abilities, and can get revenge.

Of course, none of these things excluding the level cap (in Guild Wars) are in any MMOs at the moment, and I find it unlikely that the other two would really gain acceptance individually in current MMOs as they are currently structured. If we want this style of impact gameplay, both pvp and pve, it needs to be built from the ground up to encourage it, rather than saying 'We are pvp', or 'we are pve'.

It would also be quite the risk, making me think its not going to happen any time soon.

1 comment:

Garumoo said...

I'm not so sure that an artificial "game reset" mechanism is needed.

I'm not saying there wouldn't be a problem which the game reset seeks to solve, just that there are possibly alternative solutions to the problem.

The problem, I'm assuming you imply, is that most games have a rich-get-richer dynamic, where the faction with some advantage gains power which has a positive feedback loop to produce more advantage again and eventually the game arrives at some equilibrium where one ├╝ber-faction dominates all the others.

As an alternative to game resets, could the game be designed with other dynamic effects which only kick in once a faction grows large (or is severely oppressed)? Large factions could succumb to internal politics and split into two smaller factions, or a large empire could grow fat and lazy and then corrupt and then get whomped by lean and mean barbarians, and meanwhile small oppressed factions could resort to guerrilla warfare, have folk heroes emerge, and offer up all the boons and bounty of the kingdom if only some brave adventurer would save them (ie. give bigger rewards for quests as compared to the quests from the fat empire).

Build in enough effects like this and instead of the game world stabilizing with some equilibrium, it will teeter and totter and be in regular flux.

I especially like the prospect of the number and existence of factions being in flux - the lore of most games include that element over and over again.