PvPEE All Over My Game! :O

I admit, perhaps last night I was having too much fun with the title for this post, but what I have to say is actually serious. PvPEE seemed like a clever play on acronyms to mean everything from PvP to PvPE to PvE.

Now I’m hoping that you’re wondering what I mean by PvPE, because if you’re not then this paragraph will be very boring for you. As you might think, it means exactly what it looks like, Player versus Player-Environment. This is just an expression that I am creating to clearly define PvP activity that influences someone’s PvE game. A good example would be Wintergrasp in World of Warcraft, and there’s something in WAR like it too, but I don’t know enough about WAR to speak on its behalf.

The issue is mixing what I consider to be two distinctly different game types together in such a way that you create a situation for your players where they are forced to do something they never wanted to do when they bought your game.

>>>>>>I figure I should add now that I know that other people have most assuredly blogged on this topic, so feel free to link me and others to their posts in the comments.<<<<<

Shadowbane. PvP extraordinaire. Again, though, we see a relatively large PvE part in the game. Wanting to build and besiege cities, I loaded up the game I had high expectations. Then I found out that I have to grind my way up to being effective before I could think about PvP-ing. That’s not such a huge problem, but my time is limited and I can satisfy my lust for killing other peoples’ avatars much easier by loading up StarCraft/WarCraft2/3. No it’s not the same thing, but there’s fire, explosions, and death- so they kind of fall in the same category to me.

The one thing, which I think is the strongest idea on the side of the fence I’m not arguing for, is the motivation behind PvP in games with PvE. Something I’ve seen come up a long when people talk about EVE is that many pirate players would like to see high-security space become less safe, so no one can avoid their wrath. This essentially equates to, “I want to be able to take everything from everyone, no matter who they are or where they’re hiding” but I’m not saying that this mentality is a bad thing per se. In the context of a PvP game it’s okay- on another day I might even argue it’s a good thing -but in a game with PvE where players may just want to play the game and not interact with other players in a hostile manner it would be most unfortunate if those PvE players could not avoid the PvP.

I got a little distracted there, but the point was supposed to be that defeating someone, destroying their fortress, and turning their allies against them loses its flavor when there is nothing behind their character. PvE helps a PvP game to create substance for your character. When someone defeats you they not only defeat another enemy, but they are putting themselves in a superior position with respect to the time spent building the character. If everyone has spent a minimum of 24-hours creating and leveling their characters then defeating another player means that you have bested them in one small way, killing them, that has the much larger implication that you have bested their 24-hour effort to create a character.  If everyone instantly creates a max-level character and has all of the available abilities then the satisfaction for beating them has to be solely based on their defeat, and nothing else. In my opinion this show that PvE can be a vital, perhaps even essential, part of PvP play in a Roleplaying Game setting.

But so that is kind of what works against what I’m saying a little bit, it’s good stuff though- worth thinking about. However my theory and PvE helping PvP be meaningful don’t need to be mutually exclusive. The problem that I’m suggesting exists is only apparent when a game allows for exclusive focus on its PvE elements. I’m saying that if players can enjoy playing a PvE game without ever needing to be involved in PvP then any kind of PvP/PvE integration will impact the game negatively.

This article at Tobold’s mentions the important idea of how people are socialized into MMOs and that’s exactly what I’m talking about here. At level 80 WoW supports exactly two (three if you count what someone said at ixobelle’s about players that just enjoy manipulating MMO economies (more than a few are evil bastards not the most polite folk and kept me from ever getting my enchanting skill up in WoW)) types of players. PvP players and PvE players. There is some overlap- and I’m sure some people are grateful for the opportunity to shake things up a bit (I enjoyed doing BGs occasionally pre-80 (and pre-70 before this latest expansion)) when they get bored -but for the most part you do one or the other exclusively. This has a lot to do with the necessity for different types of difficult-to-obtain gear for each type of play, but that nuance is not what this post is about.

So why is the PvP/PvE mix, like in WoW, bad? Before I mentioned the socialization of MMO players into a game, and Tobold’s article focuses on poor group dynamics while leveling leading to clueless players at level 80 that don’t know what’s going on or how to play their class. Even worse is a player that has done nothing but leveling and PvP so they actually have fairly decent gear but no experience in a group. You see this because your game has two distinct purposes, to provide a meaningful PvP environment and a meaningful PvE environment, and each type of environment requires a distinct type of socialization.

The two types of socialization don’t mix very well all the time. As I mentioned before, having a PvP player join your group for difficult instances and raids can be PvE-suicide. This is not anywhere near a judgement on all PvP players, even though I haven’t had good experiences with PvP players that did not have strong PvE roots, it is simply a statement of risk. I remember joining a practice arena in WoW and I was ridiculed for not having better PvP gear by my ally, and it was because I really did bring him down just because my gear wasn’t made for PvP.

This is another idea I’ve seen floating around a lot, so I can’t really pin it on one person with a link, but the idea that MMOs are trying to be too much to everyone is a core part of what I’m trying to say. I’m sorry that it’s taken me so long to get to this, but this is what I think is the most important part of all this:

PvP-focused design partitions players into factions that are incapable of cooperating in a PvE setting. This leads to a split world and player base. In WoW you can only do half of the available quests, visit half of the available towns, and play with half of the available players in PvE. Besides the fact that this makes any PvE content (aside from the few neutral factions and instances) worth only half of what it could be worth, it creates a rift between players so that you further stress the inherent flaws of the system (lack of healers/tanks gets worse when you have to pull group members from a player base of half the size (every server is different in its proportions, but I’m using the ideal because that is another nuance that is not relevant here)).

In EverQuest (Let the constant referencing continue) there was a sense of reality in the faction system. If you picked an evil race then the other evil races got along pretty well with you and the good guys wanted to rip your heart out. It’s the same way with the PvP-focused design of WoW and WAR except that there are no exceptions, your primary faction standings are static. In EverQuest if you were a Dark Elf, Troll, Ogre, or even an Iksar (the race despised by all) then you could work your way into the hearts of the Wood Elves if you spent enough time killing their foes. Who wouldn’t love the guy that dealt a serious blow to your foe, and while doing so alienated himself from his own people? That gave the game a sense of lore, but without the NPC rigidity a PvP-focused system requires. Grouping was also not restricted by faction. If you want to kill some nasty baddies why shouldn’t that funny looking Ogre be able to help you out? Just because you’re an Elf means you’re automatically too racist to associate with other peoples? Clearly he isn’t so bad if he wants the same thing you do for the world (that is to rid the land of more seriously bad guys).

PvP is, not surprisingly, focused on putting players in a position to kill each other. Often when you implement a PvP focus into your game you destroy some key elements of PvE that keep it engaging and versatile. Being cut off from half of the players on your server is never fun when you can’t find a group as a tank and their groups have an excess of healers, and there’s really no need for this division- except to perpetuate the PvP mindest of “us against them.” The worst part, to me, is having PvE content limited by PvP activity. In Wintergrasp in WoW you have to win a large PvP battle every two hours to be able to access one of the level 80 raids. For PvE players that have no interest in PvP this is either forcing them to rely on the whim of their faction’s PvP players or do something they don’t want to do in order to access content.

WoW’s cutscene where Highlord Bolvar Fordragon (By far my favorite Human in the game :() dies when he challenges Arthas showed a brief moment of cooperation between the factions in the interactions between two important NPCs, but that cooperation has never been realized for the players. I think that this is wrong, and that the PvP focus of WoW destroys what could be a much more engaging PvE game. I’m not WoW-hating, mind you, I simply believe that any game that has a focus on PvE (Not even exclusively! PvP can be present!)should be static-faction-free to keep PvE play engaging and free of the taint of PvP influence.

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4 Responses to “PvPEE All Over My Game! :O”

  1. Ysharros Says:

    Heh, I read through most of that without being sure whether I agree or disagree with you — probably a little of both depending on circumstance. (And depending on having a more working brain than I do today.)

    That last paragraph, however, does make a lot of sense. Faction-based PvP seems to be a poor man’s version for everyone. It cuts off half the PvE content for the PvE players and partitions the PvP players into unchanging camps. I’d never really thought about it, but maybe PvP players are tired of MMOs being so static too. Maybe that’s why EVE is so highly-rated for PvP — you can attack anyone you damn well please, but you can also ally with anyone you damn well please if you work hard enough at it.

    Food for thought. I don’t normally bother thinking about PvP. 😀

  2. jedioftheshire Says:

    Thanks for your comment Ysharros, and I’m glad you found the post intriguing! I think you and Tesh are the only perople that know I started up the blog again. 😛 My mind was kind of muddled as I wrote the whole thing, which is why even I am not so sure that I agree with what I’m saying above all the time, but I finally had a moment of clarity at the end there and decided that it was a good thing to end on a CLEAR thought that I could really throw my support behind. Unfortunately the rest of it just came out as me musing around the topic. Time to get my brain back into blogging shape! Or maybe that’s just the way I blog… that would be kind of unfortunate. My primary purpose in blogging here is to release the pressure on my brain valve and hopefully start people thinking about things differently, and ideally to eventually be able to collaborate to find a good solution to some of the issues that are important to MMOs.

  3. Ysharros Says:

    You should put the last part of that paragraph (the one above, not the one in the post) in your About page — it’s a pretty nice mission statement.

    As for being brief and to the point… I’m not the one to advise you on that. 😛

  4. jedioftheshire Says:

    Thank you! That’s a good idea and I’ve been wondering about what to put on my about page for a while. Now to just figure out how to edit it…

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