Jaradcel writes up another in-depth guest post on Rift PvP. Enjoy! –Ravious
Lately with the amount of PvP I have been doing, it feels like my brain is beginning to bleed “learn2play” attitudes. I have caught myself replying to obvious troll bait yells or even doing so myself.
Upon consideration, I feel like one of the root causes of this, which is far less prevalent in a PvE aspect, is because of the way developers tend to design for PvP. There are several reasons, but to start the ball rolling: Developers tend to cater to the defeatist.
In order to appeal to the vast majority of your players, you must ensure that the vast majority are happy. For PvP, the most obvious manner is to reward gear, “exclusive” content and other such knick knacks. This rewards winning, obviously, but at the same time you cannot allow the losers to simply not advance either. Not to do so would result in one side eventually having a greater gear disparity through constant winning that would eventually steamroll the other side. As such, even losers gain a small amount of whatever PvP currency you have to dish out.
What such an insidiously simple concept fosters, however, is the thought that losing is OK. If we win, that`s great. But if we`re losing…
“Oh, the other side is premade.”
“Oh, the other side is better geared.”
“Oh, we lost the first point. There`s no point now.”
“Oh, we’ll get it back next game.”
And then your team gives up, sitting in their respawn box waiting for the timer to tick down. When there is no personal risk of loss to yourself (Unlike, say, Eve Online`s winner-takes-all style of battle) it fosters in your player base a sense that there is no real need to win, either. We`ll get it next round.
A few examples come to mind to help illustrate the point. World of Warcraft`s two “contested” battlegrounds, Wintergrasp and Tol Barad, were notorious for their varied issues. Wintergrasp had issues with uneven teams, while Tol Barad initially awarded the attacking winner team ten times as much rewards. In short, it fostered a “why bother defending?” attitude in its players.
Rift, too, has the same problems. More often than not, whichever side wins the initial scrum will continue to dominate – be it in battlegrounds or an open-world PvP rift. Forcing the other team into their graveyard, unable to exit, is not uncommon. Once the whining sets in, it goes endemic. Teams rarely – if ever – recover. Again, it fosters a “why bother?” mode of thinking that seeps into its player base.
This thinking then leads into the more insidious “Why try at all?” problem. Win or lose, I will gain some form of currency. So why waste my time and effort when I can simply hide in a corner and alt-tab to do something else? If I win, great. If not, oh well. It will just take me a little longer to get to the same gear level. And maybe then I can compete…
I think catering to defeatists is approaching the problem wrongly. However, I also realize that the opposite can be equally un-fun (Allowing only the winners to get the gear) because of gear disparity. One solution that I`ve seen comes from the surprising source of shooters. Global Agenda and Team Fortress 2 offer players who “grind” (aka play for a long time) the option of sidegrades. You could take, for example, a heal gun that grants both you and your ally invulnerability, or one that offers the ally 100% critical hit chances with no invulnerability. Both bring serious strategic choice to the player, without necessarily unbalancing the gameplay. Everything else is then left to player skill. Those 100% crits are horrifyingly scary and potentially team-clearing in the hands of a good Demoman in Team Fortress 2, for example, while invulnerability is fantastic for defending the final cap point.
What are your thoughts on the issue?