Meaningful PvP

On one hand, this is a really great post about PvP from the perspective of someone with that K orientation who wants a PvP-based game. Syncaine makes all the points you would want about why someone wants PvP with consequences and who the niche is, with the awareness that it is a much smaller market than the PvE theme park I am currently trying. Even if you consider PvPers and Killers some foreign species, the post retains great anthropological value. It does not need my help to recommend it.

On the other hand, a lot of it comes down to “the niche is even smaller than previously realized.”

On the gripping hand, it is potentially the No True Scotsman fallacy in motion. The PvP game must be “well-executed” (grant the potentially tendentious claim that Darkfall is), which is the most common excuse for why the last five PvP-centric games failed. Players who quit did not really want meaningful PvP, because they cannot take losing to people who are better than them. And hey, both may be completely true in this case, but that becomes an increasingly narrow edge on which to balance as “the niche” gets defined down to an increasingly small population. Many players on that edge will bleed into the Fundamental Attribution Error: if I did not like the game, it was poorly executed; if you did not like that game, it’s because you are a whining loser noskillz carebear. I imagine someone on the Darkfall forums has made a hobby of tracking players’ moving from the second claim to the first as they ragequit.

: Zubon

23 thoughts on “Meaningful PvP”

  1. If you really want meaningful PVP I think most players go to FPS. A game like TF2 is very MMO player friendly and has far more balanced and fun PVP.

    1. But in no way meaningful, as players respawn in less than a minute and total loss means you start over on even footing. WoW battlegrounds have more impact-ful PvP. Many players cannot stand servers with even 20 second TF2 respawn timers and go for instant respawn, which gets disgustingly pointless.

    2. That’s funny, I am exactly one of those people. And I will explain why – it’s about skill. Or, a certain sort of skill, rather.

      I do not mind pvp *with consequence* sure I get the rage on an occasion just like anyone else, but that isn’t my motivation for generally shying from MMO pvp. Rather, it is because I know the person that just got me in an FPS has real skill (which I like to acknowledge with a hearty OMGWTFHAX! lol). Not epic phat lewtz, not 500 hours of rep grinding or what-have-you … but SKILL.

      I know that MMOs have their own skillsets and I’m not really trying to denigrate that, but for me where PVP is concerned it just isn’t the same. So here I am, never touched an FPS (except for the Doom 2 demo in 1996), playing Team Fortress 2 to the exclusion of everything else sometimes. I often found myself thinking I would like to do some battlegrounds in WoW only to log into CounterStrike instead.

      There is just more of a thrill and yea, even a feeling of pride knowing that you got that headshot because you are quick, have good aim and spot timing then it is to own someone because you have uber gear. That’s my perspective.

      1. I agree with you Fortuente – that’s why I play Darkfall.

        Darkfall is an FPS MMO.

        I HATE tabtarget MMO because of the skill-free trash players nuking me.

        Darkfall is full loot so dying means something.

        Darkfall has slow travel so there is no constant respawn run (unless its a siege on your city).

        Try it.

  2. If the PvP games are subject to the No True Scotsman fallacy, why aren’t the PvE games subject to it? Or do they just compartmentalize the problem better?

    1. I think its because you can’t really accuse bad faith to an idea as much. If you quit an MMO because the crafting sucks, you can’t say that the person really didn’t want to craft anyways. There’s no real identity component to that. Its harder to defend a crafting system over the Idea Of impact PvP, with all the baggage that comes with it.

    2. The games are not subject to the fallacy. The arguments presented often head towards it. Games cannot be subject to fallacies; they are not that kind of thing.

      1. I was thinking on a different vein: Not blaming the players for not being true PvPers, but blaming the game for not being true PvP, for example due to bad balancing. A PvE game might compartmentalize this better, because if class X is under/overpowered, the core gameplay for players who chose class Y or Z might still be fine. By contrast, if class X is overpowered in PvP, players are going to flock to it to wtfpwn their opponents. Or lead a mass exodus if it’s underpowered.

        1. What you’re saying happens to PvE games all the time (“I like X, it was just done lousy here”). So your point becomes that “well-executed” is harder in PvP, because any flaw immediately becomes pandemic, while PvE games re-route around damage?

          1. Pretty much, yeah. I’m not sure whether the deciding factor is the PvE-PvP difference, though. Other possible factors that contribute to a brittle design could be the average group size for player interaction and the tuning. Playing with/against highly competitive humans can contribute to the latter, and the application of No True Scotsman fallacy that you mentioned can make hardcore PvP games a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  3. oooo player skill – its hard to quantify in an MMO. I agree with Fortuente – its obvious when you go up against a higher skilled player in an FPS – the score is readily available and you just plain get destroyed by them in a 1v1.

    But skill in an MMO is multi-faceted. There is kiting, use of time-intensive crafted items, use of time-intensive farmed weaps/armor, best use of the classes abilities, use and or abuse of game mechanics, stat assignment….its tough to put a finger on what makes an MMO player skilled. But there is huge satisfaction from taking your toon out and testing all of the above in a match vs another player. The identification you get with your toon is much moreso then any FPS.

  4. It comes down–to steal a phrase from Scott Jennings–to Sturgeon’s Law of Pwning. Ten percent of players are at the top of the bell curve and the other 90% are going to get their asses kicked. The question is whether you regard their soul-crushing dominance as a challenge to rise to, or an opportunity to say, “Fuck this, I’m going to go play a game where anybody can be a winner”. Most people choose the latter. Personally, I enjoy the abuse.

  5. On the contrary, I think it comes down to this problem: Everyone thinks that the only way to have “meaningful pvp” is to make failure really punishing to the loser somehow. That way, when you win, you know you really hurt someone. Why is that meaningful?

    Because you had an effect. Not because you were at greater risk if you yourself lost. We’re stuck in this dichotomy where people think the only way to have meaningful PvP is to make losing increasingly unattractive. And instead of that sort of a simplistic formula, people would rather ride on the complicated, souped-up themepark rides that make up PvE. I don’t blame them.

    So PvE is generally considered a themepark, right? Ok, why can’t we mix in a little PvE into our PvP, to create an impact that doesn’t involve looting someone’s corpse so that they lose everything on death? Make it so one faction winning a battle for, say a zone, results in a change in the zone, the town changing hands, removing those npcs from access to the other faction. But then add a corresponding “rebel camp” or secret hideout for the losing faction to conduct guerrilla operations from.

    In other words, change the world based on who wins and who loses, but make it a 3-dimensional change. Don’t just let the winner sleep in the bed and throw the loser out of the house. Make it meaningful, just not very painful. And then we’ll see how much of a niche PvP is. Remember that PvE was pretty “niche” during EQ1 if you compare it to now.

      1. Hm, I thought that game failed because it’s implementation was simplistic, and if one faction won, it meant the other faction was locked out of the house, so to speak?

        I’ll go read about WAR some more though, so I have a better perspective on it.

        I’m not TOO worried about that, since that question has to be answered by every single MMO out there. As a pvper myself, I’m pretty confident in my belief that most pvpers don’t have to have the loser suffer in order for pvp to have meaning. The point is to play against other humans, and to have an effect in some way. If that effect was built into the game, and was more elaborate than simply holding or not holding a piece of land, it might work.

        The idea would be for the game to change, for new options to be opened up, not just for the flag at the top of a keep to change skins, and the npc guards to switch sides.

  6. On the other hand, Syncaine is an issue, in and of himself. In my observations, I’ve discovered that my experiences and his have tended to diverge greatly, even if we are talking about precisely the same event.

    So, you know, grain of salt.

  7. Personally, I think the issue with PvP is that the early levels, in many games, are too skill-based. Everything requires training, and it’s too easy for someone to stick a nose in and then get WTFPWNed six times in a row, which is rather depressing.

    I think Warhammer’s scenarios are pretty good, really, as they tend to throw together two groups of people with no training whatsoever. Until, of course, you run into a coordinated team, whereupon you TEND to get splattered.


    Mandatory unteaming in PvP? It’d be a leveling factor that still allows for individual merit.

  8. Other random thought: What if it was impossible to gank people? Let’s say PvP was slower than normal fights. Give people ten times the HP they have in PvE.

  9. Bagpuss, quite so. Now, Syncaine, if you read the article, takes the other tactic, claiming scenarios are the worst sort of PvP possible.

  10. Because Syncaine has a different preference and point of view. Bhagpuss’s preference is like when I go to watch the new Star Trek movie, while Syncaine is like when I watch Memento, or Moon. Now, I can enjoy both movies, depending on my mood, but I find if I treat Star Trek too seriously, the people I’m watching it with might get a bit annoyed that I’m overanalyzing things when it’s just supposed to be a fun movie to watch and not have to think about.

  11. Contrawise, if there’s nothing but Memento out there, the barrier to entry is going to be a bit high, leading to a lower overall pool.

  12. Very true. Plus, Hollywood might not be able to risk funding Memento without all the money from Star Trek. I guess at that point, the best chance for those of us who like Memento-level is to get a movie that can satisfy both – like say, The Matrix?

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