Laws of the playground

Regis had some comments to make earlier this week about his dislike of instanced PvP. I was thinking about this myself. Instanced PvP is a very different creature to it’s uninstanced counterpart, and has developed through different games into an interesting sandpit type of minigame. Just looking at the sheer numbers of scenarios available in WAR, it’s clear that the designers have embraced the notion with rather more vigour than WoW, which has four and may not be adding any in the next expansion.

I can never get the same feel from a battleground as from world PvP. I think it’s to do with the sense of scale. All my most exciting PvP memories are from world PvP. But it’s undeniable that battlegrounds do have some very real advantages, and they play to how the playerbase has developed.

In a battleground, you are guaranteed a fight. Think of them as being like the Big Brother House. It’s an environment designed to make people fight pointlessly over made up objectives! But not only that, it also guarantees even(ish) numbers of people from both sides. So not only do you get a fight, but you get a fair fight, numbers-wise. Think about that. So if you log on in the evening and just want to go fight stuff, you have the choice of standing around a keep for 2 hours hoping the other side will turn up, or you zone straight into an instanced PvP playground and go mess around with king of the hill, murderball, or holding random objectives and you are guaranteed a load of other people to fight. And if it’s a game like WAR where you can level via PvP you will get some xp out of it too.

I do think of it like a playground. It doesn’t mean anything. You can zone into the same battleground again and again and again. You know where your starting point is, you know where the other side’s starting point is. It doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun fights or play around the scenery but it is a very smallscale type of game. (That’s why I called it a minigame.) On the bright side, it does mean that you could (in theory at least) use the instanced part to make some very unique and interesting setups. We haven’t seen any scenarios that took place underwater, on a glacier, on floating islands connected by bridges that can be built or blown up, but you could do it! The possibilities are there, just as in instanced PvE you can create unique and scripted events that might not work so well for world PvE. But no one has really pushed the limits yet.

World PvP compared to that somehow feels grander and more involving. At least if you take a keep in DaoC you can hang your guild colours on it and know that they will stay there … at least for awhile. Keeps in WAR will be similar. So really my issue with instanced PvP is that one of the big attractions to me of a MMO is playing in a persistent world. Battlegrounds are not persistent, only the xp/renown points that you get stay with you.

That doesn’t mean they can’t be fun and they certainly do pass the time. But it isn’t the same and it isn’t the reason that I play. Having said that, the days when people were happy to spend all evening hanging out at the Albion Milegate without seeing much action are pretty much gone. Players don’t have that kind of patience, we expect a game to keep us busy and occupied.

PvE is affected by this also — people don’t want to spend hours and hours queuing up to get into a group at some prime levelling spot. Sure, we used to do that and it was great for the community spirit but designers have decided, not unreasonably, that it wasn’t very fun. Sometimes you just have to shrug and say “those days are gone,” and I don’t think any modern game shows signs of going back. WAR certainly gives you the options of both world PvP and instanced. It will be largely down to the playerbase to decide what it wants to do.

Maybe sometime a really unregulated sandbox game (like EVE maybe) will be made again. Until then, we better get used to playing in our sandpits and playgrounds.

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3 Responses

  1. Hmm. I hope that World PvP will be the most popular PvP choice, but at the same time I hope that scenarios won’t be completely forgotten. As far as I know, WAR doesn’t use cross-realm queues, something WoW introduced to battle slow queues. I hope I won’t see it in WAR; RvR is all about fighting the other Side, and by time you get to know them as your best friends. I don’t want to face some random guys all the time, even in a Scenario.

  2. I like the idea of scenarios, I came to MMOs from FPS, and got used to team-play based around achieving specific objectives in order, the favored option for a lot of FPS like Enemy Territory ( A totally free high quality FPS).
    The defense simply has to hold on till the time expires, whilst the offense must push on. This negates to a large extent the way combat tends to (not) flow in open PvP, where it appears to be a lot of time is wasted in standing around waiting for somebody to DO something. Having a specific goal to achieve creates greater involvement and encourages teamplay.

  3. I think we’re going to see a decent balance in WAR. You’re absolutely right, the Scenarios are so groups can get fair, or fairer, fights than we saw in DAoC, where a solid 8-man group could encounter the zerg and get moshed by (in their opinion) substandard players not playing the game “correctly”.

    I loved DAoC RvR, and I’m not a fan of instanced PvP, at least not the WoW BG-style instancing.

    I think WAR will be different, though. First, the Scenarios to contribute to overall zone control, so it really does matter how well your realm is doing in there. Second, you’re well rewarded in gear and renown for fighting in Scenarios, as well as world RvR, and you get experience to boot. Third, it’s easy to join as a group, so you can play with your friends if you so desire. At least, in theory, it’ll be interesting to see queue times for groups in Scenarios.

    I think Grimley is going to like the goals for world RvR in WAR, as well as the Scenarios.

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