Do we really need different server rulesets?

One of the questions asked at the Q&A session at Games Day Baltimore was about different server types:

Q: “We all know that there are, uh, PvE areas and RvR areas in every zone, but given that war is everywhere are there any plans to have server rulesets where there are no PvE areas and everything is an RvR area?”

Jeff: “Not at launch.”

Stepping carefully through the floods of tears of the guys who have convinced themselves that this means their dark elves will have to engage in winsome country dances with dwarf lasses when they should be murdering each other, this news makes me very happy.

All it means is that there won’t be open free for all PvP in every zone all the time. In particular, people will be able to choose when they PvP. Starting areas won’t be constantly camped. You might even be able to get to your trainer without dying 17 times.

But it’s a game about WAR and that means you want to kill the other side, not quest alongside them.

What does the (current) community have to say about this?

Opinions are mixed. In general, the people who played DaoC or EVE are in favour of the single server type. The people who mostly played WoW are not.

James (Community Coordinator from Mythic), drops into the Vault to note that server type plans aren’t finalised yet.

On WHA, a lot of players are concerned that separate rulesets would fracture the community.

Epicone@WHA also started a thread to discuss Core Ruleset doesn’t equal Carebear

The Appeal of Open PvP

It’s exciting to level in an environment where you have to watch out for other players all the time. But in a game where it’s possible to level purely via PvP, the people who want to do that can already do it. I’ll be amazed if there aren’t quests and PvE type content out in the PvP zones also.

But it is key to the idea of open-PvP that it isn’t optional. It can happen any time, any place, anywhere. There is no safe area. If you know where the other realm’s favourite questing spots are, you can go and attack them there. You can jump on people who aren’t trying to PvP. In practice, on WoW’s PvP servers, this has made some favourite levelling spots into no-go areas.

But if world PvP is readily available and the game is fun and lots of other hardcore PvP players are around, how many people would find it a total showstopper to not have the option of an open-PvP server? It will be a small minority. The vast majority will settle for the single ruleset.

That doesn’t sound great – why should anyone have to ‘settle’ for anything? Because splitting up the community is worse. And in the long run, keeping the community vibrant and non-segregated is the best way for the game to grow.

How about RP servers?

I’ve enjoyed playing on RP servers. I’m not a hardcore RP type, but I like to be able to charge into battle yelling “For the Horde!” from time to time without having my own realm fall around laughing at me. I like being able to walk through a city and hear RPed conversations, it makes the place feel more ‘alive’. I like not having to see character names that are wildly out of place in the setting. Plus RP servers tend to get a more mature playerbase, for whatever reason.

Although this can split the community, the RP community does need to stay together because they need people to roleplay with. But they don’t need a different ruleset.

So it’s fine for these guys to just designate a RP server and let the playerbase decide if they want to play there or not.

A Single Server Ruleset

WoW made the mistake of splitting up the player base pretty hard on this issue. They compounded it when they introduced server transfers by saying that you can never move from a PvP to a PvE server. Players saw this and were nervous of having their choices limited … so a lot of people play on PvP servers who don’t enjoy it but wanted to be with their friends, or didn’t want to get stuck on a server type that might limit their options for raiding guilds.

A single server type keeps the community together. Yes, there will be hardcore PvP guys who will leap enthusiastically on any fight that’s going. Yes, there will be cautious players who don’t seek out PvP so enthusiastically or wait until they have friends around. But they will all be playing on the same team, may even be in the same guilds/armies, and will all be playing the same game.

That means that if a player nervously heads out to the PvP zone and is ganked, they’ll be able to call on the more hardcore PvPers in their own realm to come help them take out the gankers. It’s not like being ganked on a PvE server (or having your quest giver NPCs ganked, more likely) where you already know most players don’t prefer PvP because if they did, they wouldn’t be there. So the PvPers get their fun fight, the original player gets some payback, the gankers also get their fun fight, it’s a win-win scenario.

This isn’t purely theoretical, it’s how PvP and the single server type worked in DaoC. (Yes, they later introduced open PvP, and fully PvE servers but they weren’t particularly successful.) Personally, given the choice I might have picked a PvE server, but I would have missed out on some of the most fun gaming experiences I’ve had in a MMORPG.

Warhammer is all about building server communities out of different types of players. Public quests and huge PvP battles all encourage the hardcore and the less hardcore to play side by side. I hope people don’t feel forced to play on a server type they hate just to be with their friends. I hope Mythic have the guts to stick with the single server ruleset. Anything else would be selling the community short.

Does it matter whether the decision is made before launch?

It matters a lot. Theoretically, of course Mythic could decide later to launch an open-PvP server or three and all the players who really wanted a wild-gankfest would go there. In practice, people like to stay with their friends, guilds, and communities. Communities on the servers will start to form as soon as the servers go live and early access begins. (Players are always at their most sociable when no one knows anyone and few cliques have formed.) So some players would go to the new servers, but the majority wouldn’t make it their new home.

If Mythic do decide to go with a single ruleset, they need to make it very clear that this is the case and there are no plans for alternatives. Otherwise people may wait for the open RvR servers before they buy the game.

So watch out for more news from Mythic on this as we get closer to launch.

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12 Responses

  1. Great topic, especially as I wasn’t even aware of this conundrum until now. Personally I enjoy an environment like EVE Online where you can be hit anywhere and I like it how the whole world/universe is this way. Yet if I got hit in a high security zone, I pretty much know the person hitting me is going to get smoked because of it. So the consequences are there and I’m fine with that because it very rarely happens that you get hit in high security zones.

    Having said that though, if Warhammer can’t emulate this level of security at lower areas, along with severe consequences from NPCs, then I don’t think they shouldn’t make it global to all servers. No idea how they could do that though. Maybe random NPC patrols that get bigger and tougher the lower you get in Tiers (and maybe the ability to track you somehow)? Not sure. I mean if the community itself can setup some form of player-based patrol, that newbs can feel very secure within (especially at lower tiers) then I think that would be awesome.

    On the flip side though I really don’t see what the issue is with people playing in a core set rules environment either. I mean the number one complaint I’m seeing with those in favor of the Open PVP ruleset is that they like/prefer the thrill of potentially being attacked at any moment. Ok, no big deal. Flag yourself PVP continually in a Core ruleset environment and problem solved. Or am I missing something completely here?

  2. Cool article! I hardly ever play on anything other than Core, but I’d give major props to a dev team that would create a ruleset in which everything is opposite. Up is down, level 40 is level 1, and greenies are purplies.

  3. Agreed, I want core ruleset and RP server (as you know).

    I think the problem comes if they decide to bring in other rulesets down the line, it just gets messy then.

  4. I think it’s a shame there will be no “Open RvR” servers at launch. I would really like to be able to take the war to my opponents wherever they are. But I also understand the nightmare of having such servers, and the balancing and re-balancing that would go into such an endeavor.

    Do I think the game will suffer because of this? Not really, but it’d be something I’d like to see sometime in the future. Plus, it might provide a clean slate for leveling, exploring a new server fresh from the beginning (always a good experience!).

  5. Core is the way the game is designed to be played. Not sure what the issue is. Sure there will be more than enough PVP for all especially with renown levels going much higher than experience levels.

  6. Maybe I’m being cynical when I say that I suspect those that will cry foul the loudest at lack of open PvP are the ones who enjoy griefing less powerful players.

  7. @unwise Some of them will be, sure. But there are also people who enjoy the excitement of knowing that they could be attacked at any time, as well as the possibility of doing it to other people.

  8. In wow I played on an rppvp server which for me was the kind of immersion I wanted. Roleplay with constant enemy threat.

    Wow was not designed with pvp in mind. As such the majority of zones do not have a pvp agenda. WAR being designed with pvp and pve integration and as such will allow players to to concentrate on their favoured aspect while being able to dip in and out of the other. I think there will be no shortage of PVP anywhere in the world.

  9. @spinks

    Very true, but as far as I understand it, you’ll be able to spend the majority of your time, if not all of it, in PvP areas, and it will be perfectly viable to reach the level cap that way.

    If you really must have the excitement of not knowing when your next fight will be, you’ll have that option. If safe areas are an affront to your PvP sensibilities, then sure, you’re going to find core RvR a little disappointing.

  10. Oh, I agree with you. But I think a lot of people are assuming that core servers will be like PvE servers in warcraft, and they really won’t.

  11. I guess you get different perspectives based on how obsessed you are with the game. There are a lot of self confessed addicts worrying about a lack of open rvr option though

  12. I would like Core and RP to be honest. I think the RP-label scares away the majority of the imbeciles, making for a more entertaining gaming experience.

    Not that everyone’s a douche on Core servers, but the ratio is much higher.

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