The PvP Protectionists

A lot of the true PvP’ers discuss the need for penalty upon death.  We aren’t talking about some pansy time-delimited death penalty (especially when you can just buy it off).  We are talking about digital blood.

Syncaine’s stories about Darkfall over at Hardcore Casual are great because I can feel the risk inherent in his adventures.  He is sure to discuss his choice of equipment which comes a long for some adventure and what stays in his vault, the thought of losing the past two hours worth of farming due to a well-planned gank, and the risk versus reward in ganking that one other person in the dungeon.  Ultimately though losing in PvP just results in lost time.  Equipment can be re-made, money can be re-farmed, and horses can be re-bought.  Still the system seems to work.  A person with tons of time to play Darkfall becomes a tasty trophy for the casual peasants.  The greater skill points and equipment will make it a hard prey to take down, but Darkfall seems to be all about timing and planning.  A careful patient assassin may very well have his day in the sun.

EVE Online stories, I hear, are much the same.  Only replace armor and swords with ships.  A veteran with some super ship might be a pretty tasty target.  They can no longer play stupid.  The happy casuals in their easily replaceable ships.  They had fun with their toys, and died.  A little trading, a little mining, and they are back where they started.  The veterans don’t have toys.  They have flying trophies and badges.  The gigantic ships they operate are not for fun.  They are for purpose.  Just like Darkfall, though, a hardcore PvP will have a ton of options (ships) for different purposes… some yes, will be for throwaway fun.  The elite don’t have to wear a bullseye all the time.

Enter Aion Online, where Werit makes a great post(based off another good post) about the ante in Aion Online’s PvP – Abyss points.  Abyss points are gained through PvP and Abyss PvE and can be used like currency to buy rankings and equipment.   Abyss points can also be lost by dying to an enemy player or NPC in the Abyss.  The “problem” is that the more brass a player is showing, the more elite that PvP’er is, the more Abyss points she will lose when she is killed.  Now, go cry, carebear.  If you were a true PvP’er, you’d stiffen that upper lip and suck less. 

Anyway, people don’t seem to care for the system, but I think it is for the wrong reasons.  It is not that Abyss points can be lost upon death or that a player will lose more Abyss points the “better” they are; the reason is because Aion Online does not have the ante system that Darkfall and EVE Online both have built inherently in their risk/reward system.  In Aion Online, a player cannot choose to go out with less Abyss points on the table.  The players that PvP the most will always have the most to lose.  It would be like being forced to wear your best gear in Darkfall or fly your most expensive ship in EVE Online all the time.  I think the best PvP environments are filled with aggressive people with something to lose (either personally or for their team), and I am not sure that Aion Online’s system will have that.  Turtling and other careful tactics are boring for gameplay in any game.

–Ravious
matrydom of saint me

14 thoughts on “The PvP Protectionists”

  1. You know, I wanted to include a piece about Eve’s/Darkfall PvP but wasn’t sure how to express it. I think you summed it up pretty well. You have risk and loss in Eve/Darkfall, but it is your decision on how much to risk. Choice adds gameplay.

  2. Great breakdown. I hate any MMO that can set large hunks of my time on fire at any moment, personally. That’s one of the big reasons I disliked EQ the first time I tried it. However, I can see that systems where you can choose your “ante” and decide go out in rags or your best gear are at least set up better than what you are describing in Aion.

    It’s funny, I remember when I first tried DAoC it seemed like such a breath of fresh air. “Holy crap, you mean you only lose 4 hours worth of XP…and I can get half of it back if my gravestone isn’t in some suicidally dangerous place [which it usually is if you died in the first place]…wow this is awesome!”

    Now days I sometimes get impatient with the ten minute stat penalties in games like LoTRO and WoW. Times have changed.

  3. This is a fantastic look into PVP risk/reward in mmo’s man. Really enjoyed this read. I had not thought about the parallel of being forced to wear your best armor/ship every time you want to fight in PVP. I haven’t played any of these games, so the insight is appreciated by me, especially since I do enjoy PVP in mmo’s.

  4. Really great observation. I also like eve’s “jump clone” approach, because not only ships are valuable – your implants are just as valuable, if not more in many cases (not hard to find a set that costs > 1B isk). Sometimes you just want to go fool around in a throw-away ship, or practice a new technique, or go exploring where you don’t know much about the area, and you don’t want to put everything at risk. Other times you need to bring all you have to conquer some special challenge, and you’re willing to put it at risk for the rewards – but you have the choice.

  5. I’m not sure how it will work out in practice with Aion’s AP.

    How is just deciding to play an Alt (with fewer points) substantially different than someone in EvE going out in a cheap ship with an unimplanted jumpclone?

    Also, and since I have no experience in the game I may be completely full of crap on this, if you look at the number of points you lose on death vs. the number you’d have in the chart here:

    http://impetusium.blogspot.com/2009/08/abyss-compendium-access-points-ranks.html

    it seems like a pittance.

    A “Grade 1 Soldier” (not sure how easy that is to get to) has 150,000 points and loses 885 points on death. Is that really that big a deal?

  6. Great article. But judging from my experience in WAR, lack of risk just means brainless zerg rushes, and I am tired of those. So some will turtle, or not RvR at all on there ‘mains’. What is the difference between that and someone in EvE only playing on a cheap ship, or people PvPing naked in Darkfall so they don’t lose their stuff?

  7. Great post ravious. EVE and Darkfall are a bit like poker – the more you bet the better your chance of winning but the more you stand to lose.

    The Aion system sounds as if they want to start selling “Abyss point insurance” in a cash shop.

  8. I think you put in words what I was missing in Aion’s PvP.

    In Ultima Online I did not wear full plate or a platemail breast all the time, and not always the best spear or sword.

    But I could loot good gear and lose good gear. This is the point. You cannot win much if you cannot lose much. And purely losing or gaining Abyss points does not really give me the kick. You can lose Abyss points in exchange for gear, but then you do not rise in rank.

    I just wonder for what I should rise in rank, if you get to the very top you can turn into a guardian deity and become something like a raid boss for a limited period of time or so, but well.

    P.S.: Getting killed in Aion does not cost you too much points, the system is set up in a way that rewards getting a few kills while it does not punish getting killed much more too hard.

    1. OK, obviously only in the scrub levels till rank 5. This is how far people got in the closed beta. According to some blogs you get far more punished for dying after that and people go quest mob farming. The silly stuff of killing 10 guys on the shards of the Abyss and turning the quest in… oh my. :(

  9. Good points as always Ravious.

    Never really looks at it as an “ante” systems (EVE, Darkfall), but now that I think about it, your absolutely right.

    EVE PvP has been among the most exciting PvP I have ever had in a game, and it’s largely due to the inherit risk of it all.

    However in saying that, I do think there is some value in ‘canned’ PvP. ie, Guild Wars.
    Where you have nothing to lose, and it’s good for a bit of mindless fun, while not having to worry about being ‘ganked’ at any point.
    But without anything to lose, you also don’t have anything much to gain. Nothing tangible anyways.

    Still, it serves as a good introductory into PvP for those who are less then hardcore about PvP. (like myself)

    ~Yoh

  10. Oh how you’ve made me miss Eve PVP! Ice camping in zero-sec with a 3-4 man crew flying nothing but stupidly fast ships made of little more than paper-mache and a huge hauler a few jumps away for the really big scores.

    It wasn’t glamorous (or fair but that’s Eve for you) but damn was it fun, especially when the prey put up a skilled fight or we mistakenly jumped a well rigged drone-boat.

  11. Two comments:

    A) PvP where you can lose some resource that impacts your future ability to compete is bad game design. Players should simply have a rating that serves as e-peen stroking to other players, not points that they would need to buy future gear.

    B) I wouldn’t call Syncaine and his ilk “true PvP-ers”. In general these griefing games where you steal other people’s candy are for social misfits; you being a seasoned veteran of Random Arenas in Guild Wars would know a lot more about the teamwork/competition/strategy of a “true PvP” game.

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