Is PvP really just for the hardcore?!

Earnest Cavelli writes an opinion piece in Wired’s blog where he rants about how MMORPGs have run out of ideas and are only including more PvP to keep the vocal hardcore fan happy.

What utter toss.

He loses me right at the beginning with the comment: Even long-standing, well-respected games such as space opera MMO EVE Online have shown a renewed interest in the phenomenon. EVE, in case anyone doesn’t know, is and has always been one of the most cut-throat PvP games on the market. The no holds barred nature of 0.0 space AND the ability to opt out from gaming there if you don’t want to PvP is one of the game’s biggest draws. So no surprise really if they’ve decided to focus on PvP for their next expansion.

You only have to look at the popularity of PvP servers in WoW to see that a large proportion of players not only enjoy occasional PvP but like it so much that any associated issues (like being ganked by high levels) don’t put them off.

As a form of endgame, it’s also relatively cheap compared to creating and stocking new dungeons or areas to explore. Players can literally entertain themselves.

I don’t understand why Cavelli thinks that adding better PvP will result in games that only appeal to a tiny minority. The examples he gives of earlier, smaller games LACKED PvP or implemented it very badly (Ultima Online was notorious for this, back in the day). So of course a lot of people who tried it then hated it. But then again, I also don’t understand why he thinks that MMORPGs evolved from online shooters (clue-by-4: They didn’t, they evolved from MUDs.)

PvP, when it’s done well, is terrifically attractive to players in a MMORPG environment. Forming up into a fighting army with a load of friends and heading off to attack an enemy base or just throw yourselves at another zerg is good fun. Fighting other players will always have an edge to it that fighting monsters never can. Especially if you see names you recognise and can rib them about it afterwards in the game or on forums or IRC.

It’s not just the hardcore who PvP. Most players will try it out. And there is definitely scope for improvements in MMORPG PvP and I’m excited to see developers recognise this and try to address it.

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Comparisons…

It’s no secret that we get very protective about the MMORPGs we play. That’s partially a good thing, and displays the power of immersive gaming. But it also leads to the bitching and one upmanship that means we *must* pick a side when it comes to the war of the MMORPGs.

Am I really threatened that someone enjoys Age of Conan, when I have no intention of playing it? I might miss them, and I do, but I have other ways of staying in touch and I know we’ll play together again. Does it really matter if someone splits their time between World of Warcraft and City of Heroes, or if they just dabble in LotRO while spending most of their time in EVE. As consumers, can’t we play any we enjoy without worrying about which is the “best”?

Also, there’s no actual need to bitch at people who don’t enjoy the same aspects of gaming as we do, the beauty of the MMO, to me, is to mix with people who can show me the positive sides of things I haven’t enjoyed before, and to do the same for them… but also to find like-minded people who share some of my basic gaming pleasures and to socialise with them while enjoying the game.

While comparisons can be a really healthy and interesting pastime they can also be a little troubling and I don’t think it’d hurt anyone to remember that there’s a chance a forceful defense can also sometimes feel a bit like an attack.

It seems quite a few people are blogging about comparisons recently. Keen and Graev have a couple of relevant posts, one asks if we’re more excited about WAR having played AoC, the other is about designing an ideal MMO. Syp, over at the Waaagh! blog also ponder the comparison curse, sparked by a post from Tobold on his MMO blog. We’ll no doubt see a lot more comparing and the recent spate is undoubtably because of Conan’s release, but I hope people don’t take it too personally as I’m trying not to, myself.