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.
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?
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.
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.
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.