Category Archives: Gaming

My thoughts on PvP, Plea to PvE’rs

I posted this on a pantheon forum located here on a thread about PvP in the game.

Sure, a PvE focus is good, but don’t for a second undervalue the relevance of PvP.

I was shocked when I saw PVP as a stretch goal and not a feature. Not only a stretch goal, but a mid-way stretch goal behind even a mobile app for the game… Really, PvP is less important than a mobile app? Surely you’ve made a mistake, valuing something to satisfy away from computer cravings over something that actually influences game play. The only thing that surprised me more was the private servers, but I addressed that in another post.

I am not a PvPer. I never participated in WoW PvP leagues, though I did occasionally battlegrounds. In Star Wars: The Old Republic, I admit I actually liked huttball (Especially as a Jedi Guardian). Also, unlike many of you, I never played Everquest 1 of 2. I did play Vanguard at beta and launch, and I found its PvP system flawed. Players were able (at that time) to kill each other without consequence. I could be murdered right in front of a guard and he would walk on by, but god forbid I hit a chicken and be sentenced to death by that same guard. I don’t know if it ever changed, but that was certainly wrong.

Me, my veteran days of playing MMOs came from Lineage 2. In Lineage 2, we had no choice of PvP or PvE servers, we simply had PvEvP. We roamed the lands, exploring, fighting, laughing, and killing. The sign of a red player (A PKer who kills someone who doesn’t defend themselves) sent chills of excitement and fear down your spine. If you managed to kill them, they had a high chance to drop various parts of their gear (including equipped armors and weapons), but if you failed, you would lie on the ground, dead, losing 2-8% XP for the level, and having to run all the way back there or call out for a rez.

Some Player Killers and their victims
Some Player Killers and their victims

But that’s not fun some of you might say. I just want to do PvE content you may say. PKing is for WoW kiddies you may say. PvP has no right to be among the tenants of this MMORPGs goals, you may say. You are wrong.

This game is about teamwork, cooperation, and player interactions many of you have so elegantly pointed out. The features of this game drive home how important player interactions are, and how player’s actions need to have meaning. Well I ask you, what has more meaning than murder? A player has decided to take the life of another. Ok, ok, let us just pretend it was a senseless murder. A child who now dances on your corpse screaming “I killed you, you foolish noob.” Tell me, in a game about teamwork, cooperation, and player interactions, what is going to happen to this player who just murdered you? Why were you traveling alone? Did the developers not mentioned traveling was to be dangerous and rewarding? Why should we be protected by this unrealistic veil, or computer programs controlling the minds of our avatars stating the law “thou shall not kill another human”? Will you not have a group of friends you are ready to call upon to your aid? Is this not required to begin with to even play the game? Are you telling me players will not randomly unite against a common foe and show the true strength of what human comradery is all about, in dazzling portrayals of selflessness and heroism that define what it is to be a caring, thoughtful human being with agency?

Several players pursuing an extreme player killer (Dark red name)
Several players pursuing an extreme player killer (Dark red name)

The opposite can also happen. Some of us enjoy role-playing the villain and find like minded individuals to aid us. Some of us are just simply evil. Some of us just can’t stand it when someone keeps hogging the quest mobs you need and drive you into a blind rage that results in a dead mob, and a dead player. What good is it, playing the role of the hero, if there are no “true” villains to face? If fighting off hordes of evil demons is so much fun, than why is it not equally entertaining to fight off a horde of evil players? Are you afraid of a challenge?
Going back to more examples of my old tales of Lineage 2, the fact that PKs could happen at anytime (or legitimate guild warfare) was made all the more fantastical due to the fact that all raid bosses and “dungeons” were open world. Not only did you have to constantly worry about your progress with the raid boss or dungeon, but you constantly had to watch your rear, as crafty players/guilds would come from behind and take you out and steal the raid boss. So, rear guards had to be appointed. It wasn’t a hassle, it was a necessity for survival. Thwarting an enemy players while also handling your position showed your might, your defeat left you to learn from your errors and to plan your revenge. It added depth, and created meaningful player interactions.

Players, surrounded, battling for their lives
Players, surrounded, battling for their lives

Many of you are right, open FFA is chaotic, and can lead to quite some issues. I expressed my frustration over being valued less than a chicken to the town guards in Vanguard. Lineage 2 has the best system I have seen to date, and it was the Karma system. If you attacked a player, you would become “flagged” and your name would display as purple. This meant you had engaged in combat, and were free game to be attacked by anyone without consequence. Anyone who struck you would also become “flagged” and wield a purple name. After about 10 seconds of not striking any player, you would return to normal and become “un-flagged”. If you attacked a player who refused to defend themselves, their name would remain white and “un-flagged”. If you killed them (a white named player), you would accrue Karma, and your name would become red, so everyone could identify you as a player killer. To make your name return to white, you had two options. Defeat mobs to reduce your Karma, or die (dying more greatly reduces your Karma). The more PKs you had attained, the more Karma you would earn per kill, and the harder it would be to burn it off. My PK character had well over 1000 player kills (Though I was not a barbarian, I had rules; Never kill a player more than once unless they attack me, Never attack a player engage in combat unless they were stronger than me, Never kill players significantly lower than my level).

Lineage 2, though a PvEvP game, did have a lot of PvP elements it revolved around, especially given the fact that clan wars and castle sieges played a major role, however the fact that you had no choice in server only served to strengthen the meaning of player interactions, the intensity of battle, and the options available to players. This all served to create a more immersive, in-depth, and evolving world as power shifted and players made names for themselves. Often times a player killed as a result of a PK would revive in town and quickly announce “PKer at x territory!” And bands of players would venture forth to slay the villainous foe and attempt to procure some loot in the process.  PK characters that dawned their actual gear instead of “throw away” gear were seen to be serious, and ballsy to risk such treasures. And a party completely outfitted in top level equipment charging through a leveling area was seen as an impressive display of power that often resulted in dozens if not hundreds arriving to test their mettle.

A guild of Player Killers in high end gear.
A guild of Player Killers in high end gear.

I know this isn’t Lineage 2. I don’t know how Everquest I and II works. I don’t know how Vanguard evolved behind its launch. But I do know that Lineage 2 has offered me my most meaningful player interactions I have ever experienced in an MMO. Every MMO I have played (Runescape, Lineage 2, Vanguard, World of Warcraft, Age of Conan, Aion, Rift, Guild Wars, Final Fantasy XI, Guild Wars 2, TERA, Final Fantasy XIV (and ARR), Star Wars: The Old Republic, and more) I have experienced both on PvE and PvP servers (assuming both existed). Yes, I have been mauled by senseless Alliance children, but my anger has been at my lack of power to do something about it (I blame WoW’s two faction only+no communication with factions “features”), not the act of murder itself. Yes, sometimes we are simply overpowered, so we go and do something else.

We cannot accept a world that revolves around choice, exploration, teamwork, and player interactions, yet denies us the chance to experience these to their fullest by forcing all players “to be friends”. I urge you, those who dislike PvP and prefer PvE, reconsider your standpoint. Allow PvP to become a part of your world (with proper/logical restrictions and consequences, such as town Guards being hostile towards PKers, and NPCs reluctant to speak with/aid PKers), and I promise you, even with the few inevitable hiccups of “childish players”, you will find yourself more immersed than you ever have previously been in an MMO before.

Me (Quatre) and my guild mate showing no mercy to an enemy who attacked us (example of a "flagged" (purple name) player who intiated combat)
Me (Quatre) and my guild mate showing no mercy to an enemy who attacked us (example of a “flagged” (purple name) player who intiated combat)

 

Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen Kickstarter

A couple days ago I was writing my articles recalling my experiences in World of Warcraft. My former guild leader took note of the articles and got in contact with me. We began to talk of how wonderful the old days were, and how MMO gaming has fallen to a sad state. We agreed that the most disappointing facet of MMOs now-a-days was the lack of players actually having to cooperate and interact with one another to obtain experiences and loot of unimaginable proportions. Dungeon and Raid finders made it so players could access all the content in MMOs with barely having to speak a word to another living soul. They have become a race to max level, where then the game is supposedly meant to “begin”. 40, 50, 60, 70, or even 80 levels of content meant to be ignored just so you can experience 1 or 2 raids over and over again until you had the top level gear that makes you match everyone else. What was the point of an MMO if we all just ran around thinking only of ourselves and blocking out the rest of the world?

Have I overused this yet? It just sums it all up so nicely.

Saddened by our discussion, we said our farewells, and I stared at my list of “promising” upcoming MMOs, and then returned to writing my articles for World of Warcraft, filling them with my disappointment it has left with me and how it has haunted many MMOs since its “success”. And then an article popped up on my facebook feed… Something about some MMO beginning with the letter P, I was sure I had seen it mentioned before, and anxious to accumulate info on more upcoming MMOs to address for my research, I decided to click on it. Whoops, this wasn’t some MMO I had heard of before, it was something new.

  • Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen, a new MMORPG being developed by Visionary Realms under the direction of Brad McQuaid. Among its list of planned features, several caught my eye is they related to the conversation I was JUST having with my former guild leader-
  • A classic take on epic MMO adventure
  • An MMO developed by gamers who aren’t afraid to target an audience of like-minded gamers.
  • An open world in which you explore to obtain not only more powerful items but also new spells and abilities.
  • Group-focused social gameplay using a class based system to encourage teamwork.
  • Combat will be challenging and involved — your decisions will matter and directly affect the battle’s outcome.
  • Travel the world and profit from selling exotic items collected from distant realms. Different cities and outposts may have local Bazaars.
  • Limited and class based teleportation may get you close, but in order to reach many destinations you will have to traverse the planar scarred lands of Terminus through the use of your own two feet or on the back of your mighty steed.
  • Earning experience is only part of what it takes to level up. Exploring the world you will gain knowledge and power allowing you to overcome more powerful enemies.

There were many more, but they were along the lines of what every MMO promises. Reading through the material it became clear that this team is focused on creating an MMO more akin to the likings of classic MMO players, where adventuring and progression takes actual effort, dedication, and is greatly rewarded. Players actually needing to interact and support one another. Interactions like this lead to meaningful social relationships, and create a truly immersive environment. The Team Brad has assembled has experience from Everquest, Everquest 2, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, Defiance, Star Wars Galaxies, and more! A very promising pool of knowledge.

BradMcQuaid

The game will basically revolve around worlds that have all collided together on a new plane, thus gods, races, and creatures from all sorts of worlds now find themselves with access to each other. Some gods remain in their celestial plane, while others rule as god kings. This gives the developers a very wide-open range of lore and influences to be able to draw from an implement.

Along with their play style, experience, and story line, they have also taken the steps to achieve funding from the crowd that will determine their success, the gamers. They launched a kick starter campaign which can be accessed here, which explains many of the things I have already briefly mentioned, as always as updates, their goals, and stretch goals which contain many juicy tidbits I hope we will see this fundraiser campaign achieve. They have already announced that the fundraising will continue on beyond the kickstarter campaign, and it seems they are on target to hit their $800,000 goal already.

I myself opted to contribute $250, a price I normally would never do (especially when the product is being promised for 2017), however today they introduced a new tier of donation that allows players to be early testers, and I hope to take advantage of this to see how the inner workings of game testing works, the development community, and the evolution of an MMO as a whole (all while being under a strict NDA of course).

I encourage you to visit the kickstarter campaign (or their website if the campaign is over at the time of your reading this) and to pledge what you can spare. This game seeks to return to our MMO roots, and it is up to us to do everything in our power to make sure this happens, or else we have only ourselves to blame for the current state of MMOs.

Just some MMO that I used to know

Over New Years I visited with some friends of mine and they introduced me to an anime called Sword Art Online. Like the anime .hack// I had mentioned previously, it involves a player becoming stuck in a virtual world, him and 9,999 other people. The developer of the game introduces himself and tells them they are all stuck in the virtual world until they can beat it. They are stuck because they all put on virtual reality head-gear that links into their nervous system. I haven’t finished the series as of yet, but I am quite fascinated by it, and it leaves me yearning for the times when MMO’s gave you the sense of accomplishment and life style as presented in this anime.SAOlogo

As you know by now (I hope) my major MMO experiences come from Lineage 2 (good) and World of Warcraft (meh). As I’ve mentioned in Lineage (and somethings I haven’t), the players deeply interacted with one another. At any moment players could come across each other (as the world was all instance-free), and they could communicate, form a party, or even kill each other if they so desired. There was no dungeon finders or raid finders (as these zones weren’t instanced off, I don’t know how they would work anyway). Players often gathered parties in town and set out from there. They had to actually communicate and establish goals and strategies. You couldn’t just hit a button and have it find a group for you and instantly transport you to the area. Much of my criticism for World of Warcraft has been how damaging it has been to the MMO genre as a whole. Sure it’s attracted millions to MMO’s, but at what cost? I would go on to express my view point on it, but it’s better summed up in this article from a WoW dev “Have MMO’s become too Easy?” Yes, they have.

WoWdungeonfinder
Like mentioned in the article, this constant hand holding and stream of quests drives players form 1 area to the next, without requiring them to think or appreciate the are around them. Every action they do is meaningless since the only objective is to reach the end-game. This leaves the quests to be stream-lined as possible, and the majority of these virtual worlds going unnoticed as the players don’t spend long enough in them to care.

In Lineage, every level was an accomplishment, for it could take days or weeks to gain a single level. Obtaining a rare sword was a matter of pride, and you wore it in town to stand out. World of Warcraft has made the norm so that no one really cares about other players or even interacting, it’s all about personal development and that almighty “Raid-Finder” button that gives players access to what the need without any effort or socializing. In Lineage 2, people would recognize your name when they saw you, and it was quite frequent to have people messaging you commenting on how great your gear looked and asking you how to get it.

But World of Warcraft’s massive success has caused everyone to pay attention and begin to adapt their games to be more like WoW. This has led to what is seen as a “WoWification” of games, as they adopt this “cookie-cutter” model. Even Lineage has fallen victim to this, and I hope to soon experience just how much when I hopefully play it a bit later this year again. This recent inflinux of gamers, though looking great on the outside as stereotypes and stigma’s fade away as more and more people from all backgrounds begin to associate themselves with gamers, has led to several damaging implementations in the gaming world. While this is a topic in and of itself, I will identify a few trends that 10 years ago would have never been thought viable: Charging for Online play (Xbox Live), Charging for Game features/maps (Most games today), Buying items from GM shop (“pay 2 win” MMO’s). Alas, this new wave of gamers seems just fine shelling out cash for these features, and demanding games be made more accessible to accommodate busy life styles. This leaves us core gamers feeling unsatisfied as the games are tailored more for these “spur of the moment” contributors, instead of loyal fan bases.

All hope is not lost though. South Korea still publishes a great amount of MMO’s, and many new ones are coming out with new features: Archeage, Black Desert in particular. These offer us “sandbox” worlds instead of “themepark”, and stand to change the way we view and play MMO’s as they are laregly based upon player creation and interaction rather than hand-holding questing. Here in the states we also have Everquest Next to look forward too, which also offers a sandbox world, and features such as having to complete quests out in the world to acquire new classes, something perhaps akin to Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn’s system of class changing (Which also appeared to be a promising MMO at the time of writing this). It’s games like these that have encouraged me to look to studying how gamers will transition and interact in these “sandbox” worlds that are fast approaching, and I hope they bring us back to the old style of Virtual worlds where players actually meant something.