Sep 20th 2008 11:35AM I was a big fan of Shadowbane, and one thing I learned from the developers there is that there is real difficulty in sustaining the community, because open PvP means you have an ecosystem with lots of wolves. But for such an ecosystem to survive and thrive, you also needs lots of sheep.
I think the things like rewards systems (such as what WoW uses toi entice people to play) does go a long way to bring plenty of sheep to the designated pvp areas and gets them to participate. Unfortunately, sectioning off pvp to those designated areas only means that players simply choose those encounters where they get the most return for their time invested. For example, joining with a premade group to crush the opposition in 3 minutes and "farm" the currency to gain the gear, or the converse, joining and not participating at all. Neither helps to foster the community.
Giving players real assets which they can build and lose brings back a greater element of reason behind pvp participation -- not for the rewards or the currency system, but for pride and for competition, and to crush your enemy in a real way.
Too much protection (like sectioning pvp off to certain areas) and it becomes stale. Too little protection and pvp will degenerate to a zergfest. The challenge is finding the right balance.
One thing is clear, the design needs to be considered from the outset, and you need to have people participating in the design who are not, at heart, PvE designers traditionally.
I look forward to Warhammer's implementation when I get a chance to try it out -- they seem to have considering many of these things from the beginning.
Jun 29th 2008 2:35PM Blizzard still doesn't provide a pvp system that is compelling to players who really play to PvP -- it has been forever polluted by a system geared for PvE: reward system, honor points, objectives to make PvE more compelling (like exp bonuses and extra spirit shards).
What the zone PvP objectives in WoW:TBC have proven over time is that each zone tends to be overwhelmingly "zerged" by one faction or another, and while a few sporting folks try to participate for the minority side, most folks give up and don't fight -- instead, they wait until later or the next opportunity to clash again.
All this results in are long windows of non-action until one side builds up enough of a majority that they can take everything on the map against little opposition; their goal, of course, is to achieve the PvE rewards.
The objective of world PvP should be to PvP, not to do more PvE. Because they are so intricately linked in all of Blizzard's designs, I'm afraid they will never be able to create a system where people participate because they actually want to do battle. What I'm afraid I see happening with Lake Wintergrasp is "dressing up the pig" by creating cute siege machines.
The core problem will resurface in WotLK, I believe: Lake Wintergrasp, about 3 months after release, will be a continuous zergfest always in favor of one side, then go dormant for a few hours, then turn into a zergfest again. Unless and until they actually allow us to do guild versus guild-type battles, or player-buildable and siege-able assets where guild reputation and player-driven content is on the line, that's the best I can see happening for Lake Wintergrasp.
Jan 13th 2008 4:16AM Aviel here - I'm a bit surprised but happy you picked up on my comments. ;-)
I take to heart your point about "Clearly the temptation is very strong for AFKers to try to scam the system and get something for nothing, but I would hate for the AFK problem in Alterac Valley to require that we give up honor as a currency, or heaven forbid, force us back into the old honor system. While it may be true that "love of money is the root of all evil," just getting rid of money can't fix the problem of human selfishness. "
This is the root of why I've been stalled in posting a few suggestions on how to "fix" AV and the honor system. I cannot come to any conclusion for a decent "fix" which does not eliminate the entire honor currency system altogether. And yet, I'm reasonable enough to know that only a compromise could be relatively effective at this stage: the 'system' as conceived could not be scrapped without tremendous backlash.
Players in this WoW game *expect* rewards for pvp.
I wish players would pvp for the sake of pvp, for competition, because it is fun, because it brings out the best in you. But, as others have oft-noted, it takes gear to pvp effectively.
I believe it is all fine and well to reap some kind of merit-based recompense to attain this gear (though I wish it wasn't the primary reason why people played BGs).
The honor grind titular system was a flawed experiment, in my opinion, which rewarded those players with the most time available within each week long window. The current system which allows people to accumulate honor without temporal restrictions has resulted in our current situation. It is a completely rational economic choice by many players, in all honesty. And therein lies the problem.
I fear that there are certain segments of management within Blizzard who actually think this is good -- it is a manifestation of network economic "lock-in" to retain the customer base. Players will keep logging in and paying their subscriptions for the grind. I hope that they realize this is not sustainable, and is eminently vulnerable to a more creative alternative which could come along.
I think in this case the answer to producing more compelling content in order to make people want to play for the sake of competition is to actually loosen control, rather than to try and tighten it; turn some of the content over to the players.
Mechanisms to "report AFKers" or to limit how much honor you gain from killing the same person multiple times are antiquated methods of control and restriction. While I appreciate there is an effort here to appease the popular sentiment about AFKing as a practice, it fails to hit the mark of an adequate systemic solution.
Ironically, the recent AV changes to the reinforcement system seem to me like a very conscious attempt by the designers to get people fighting at the important strategic points, as well as to distribute the zerg rush mentality by making the towers and GYs more important. However, it was this very design change that actually resulted in vastly unbalanced honor totals. It used to be that a win or a loss at least afforded you the opportunity to kill Lts or Galvanger/Balinda and gain a certain amount of guaranteed honor. Players were actually happy with that. Coupling the honor with a more strategic objective like a tower makes either side much less willing to allow the other to have that objective.
And so now you have games with 600-0 scores.
I see glimpses of this loosening of control in their grander plans, such as the world pvp at Halaa and the promises of Lake Wintergrasp; player-buildable and controllable assets.
Imagine an Alterac Valley where you begin with no towers and no GYs, and no hulls of fortresses. Instead, you only have your mine shafts and lumber mills. What if you allow each instance to BUILD their own battleground on the way by allowing them to gather materials and establish bases within the terrain. This would no doubt create a much longer (and more epic) battleground, but as long as people are gaining enough honor for them to feel relatively satisfied, I think that the capability of players to more directly effect the landscape themselves by creating GYs where they think they should be, erect towers and archers where they can be useful for offense or defense, and in general shape the battle themselves would make the experience far more dynamic and far more compelling than the static controversial maps which we have today. People could join and leave throughout the battle without long debuff penalties to restrict them.
I think opening the battleground up to be more effected by the players directly could make people enjoy the experience enough to want to play and make their mark. The honor gain could be tied to activity within that instance, rather than objectives.
Jan 11th 2008 7:18PM These are all focusing on the wrong issue, in my opinion. Here's my summary of the problems which Blizzard is facing -- and they are systemic to their design for battleground pvp -- but I do not think they are addressing:
"Paging Dr. Pavlov...."
Jan 4th 2008 3:18PM I absolutely love BG healing more than anything else I could be doing in there (although I've started a rogue recently and that's great fun, too!).
It is inevitable to have complainers -- I find that most people who complain are simply doing so out of frustration. If the opposite team gets the first WSG cap, when someone taps a GY they shouldn't have, when something else occurs that throws them out of whack, you immediately have a "You guys suck!" comment.
Yes, healers get a disproportionate share of this, but you have to roll with it.
I have never -- well ok, maybe once or twice -- gone out of my way to avoid healing someone because of the way they represent themselves in the chat channels. If I can keep players up and it gets me closer to a victory (which is the only real stat I care about, I don't count my honor or tokens, yes I know I'm a bit of an anomaly from your pedestrian Pavlovians), then I heal them.
I've probably had more cases by the end of the battleground where someone who vociferously berrated healers and/or everyone else send me a private whisper along the lines of "You rock! Thanks for the heals! I wish more people knew wtf they were doing in here!" than cases where people continued to complain.
Reminds me of Big George Nelson and the comment on him by the eponymous Ulysses in the Coen brothers' "O Brother Where Art Thou?":
"Well, they say that with the thrill-seeking personality,
what goes up must come down.
Top of the world one minute, sad the next.
Yes, sir, it's as if our old friend George is a alley cat
and his own damn humours are swingin' him by the tail.
I wouldn't worry, Delmar. He'll be back on top again.
I don't think we've seen the last of George Nelson."
The biggest belittlers can also be the biggest praisers. :-D
Any way you slice it, a healer in BGs needs to have a thick skin. If you are healing your folks, keeping people up, make a difference, and get the 'W', who cares what the Baby Face says?