Top Image

MMORPG – PVP INCENTIVES

Table of Content

  1. Abstract
  2. General Terms
  3. Introduction
  4. What do we want?
  5. Incentives
    a. Realm, Guild & Personal Incentives
  6. Reflection

1. Abstract

The main purpose of this article is to reflect and outline, what kind of incentives people have for participating in player vs player combat, and what kind of problems can arise.
This isn’t an article about choosing between PvE or PvP and should not be treated as such.

I original posted a part of this article in extension of the official SWToR Community Q&A (source: http://www.swtor.com/community/showthread.php?t=377175), hence the name of the article.

2. General Terms

SWToR: Star Wars the old republic
DEV: developer
MMORPG: massive multiplayer online role playing game
Q&A: questions & answers
PvP: player vs player
RvR: realm vs realm
PvE: players vs environment

3. Introduction

First and foremost, I think it’s a great opportunity for the community of SWToR, to able to rise viable questions towards such as PvP.

Based upon all the different DEV interviews I have watched and read while intensely following the game, I get the overall impression that the DEV’s do act accordingly, if the claim is legitimate.
I do however sometimes get the feeling, they are afraid of creating the best possible content, which caters a specific type of play style, namely the target group of PvP players.

I know many of my points below have been covered in previous questions/posts in original Q&A, but I just need to voice my opinion. I need to do so, because every other MMORPG have failed to make a fully viable PVP system and that scares me. Recently at PAX Prime (source: http://prime.paxsite.com/) BioWare announced new PvP details. An entire planet dedicated to PvP, world PvP and territorial control to be exact, the news made me very excited and hopeful towards the future fate of PvP in SWToR. One thing made me slightly worried; when they began to talk about, why we should participate and what kind of rewards we could get by doing so.
They only mentioned items, badges and so forth. I know they announced different objectives will be added to the game, but they need to ensure the PvP audience now. I would be so sad, if every other aspect of the game were flawless and original,  then fall short on the PvP part again.

4. What do we want?

If you take a quick tour through the official Q&A PvP thread or on the forums for that matter, the general consensus is;  1) we need real incentives for PvP 2) territorial world PvP/RvR is a preferred over boxed battlegrounds.

Personally I’ve got no problem with the idea of having battlegrounds at all, since there is a segment of players that prefer that type of gameplay. However I’m in firm belief that it’s possible to create a MMORPG that appeals to more than just one kind of playstyle, but battlegrounds simply don’t cut it for the rest of us. We need to feel like we matter on a large scale, it needs to make sense.

swtor-artwork-pvp

It makes no difference to the game, your guild or your faction if you don’t take part in Battleground PvP. When participating has the same effect of NOT participating then PvP is rendered meaningless.

Item upgrades, tokens and other rewards should be a part of the solution, since they still offer the players something on an individual level. It is more specifically a visual representation of your personal progression to other players.
People want to be respected, look cool and feel more powerful, but items alone, won’t achieve this.

What do we want?
Meaningful PvP that unites friends, guilds and the entire realm in striving to defeat the other side in PvP warfare – an endgame that doesn’t necessitate PvE content or require needlessly repetitive and constrictive PvP battlegrounds.

I think the solution is a combination of multiple mechanics.

5. Incentives

5.1 Realm level incentive

People want to matter on a larger scale; not just play an instanced battleground/warzone game number 133 for a chestpiece with another color and 10+ stats.

We have seen this work in previous games like Dark Age of Camelot. Like most other good concepts, you can’t use it out of its original context and expect it to affect yours the same way or better. It needs to be reinvented and improved to current standards, so it’s designed for the game at hand.

Dark Age of Camelot

For the people who haven’t played DAoC, I will briefly explain how it worked. If one the realms control a specific location in a PvP zone (BioWare refer to this as territorial control), the whole realm got a stat bonus or gained access to a specific zone/dungeon. This meant the realm in control of the PvP zone, could access a zone normally inaccessible.
If the other realm manages to retake this location, players of the opposite faction already located inside the zone, won’t be ‘banished or kicked’.  They can stay as long as they want, if they excel in the art of group PvP, as the new realm in territorial control, enter the zone and start their inquisition to hunt down and purge their enemies.
This created multiple advantages, synergy between PvP & PvE, uniting different segments of the server population towards one common goal. A realm level ‘call to action/trigger’ and motivation incentive. Additionally a game concept like this, is very much within the whole lore of the game; it’s a war.

Realm controllable planets/zones(outposts etc.) in SWToR could open up for:
- PVE content
- High quality crafting materials
- Vendors

More mechanics along the lines of the one above could be viable too.

Realm Relics (source: http://support.darkageofcamelot.com/kb/article.php?id=283), again this is from DAoC, but it’s a great way to involve realm size collaboration and create alliances between the different guilds on the server. It doesn’t have to be exactly like DAoC, but the core concept works.

In DAoC each of the 3 realms have 2 realm relics in their homeland Keep’s relic shrine, giving the realm in possession bonus to either melee or magic. These bonuses raise well-grounded concerns: won’t it create whine, between the different realms, because the other realm got better base bonuses? They do not have to be huge boosts to all the players, but just small enough amounts, that people actually want to fight for them. More important it will create a natural ‘hate’ and therefore reason to fight, it’s all about behavior change (motivation, triggers etc. see BJ Fogg, http://www.bjfogg.com/).
Capturing such an item, it adds another layer & dimension for the player; enter the battle and claim the first price, something to bring back to your own homeland and celebrate.
As I briefly mentioned earlier people want to be respected & recognized in some capacity for their actions and accomplishments. Realm relics and territorial control definitely visualize and communicate this way better to the opposing faction and the SWToR community in general, compared to items etc.

5.2 Guild level incentive
Above we already have guild level impact aimed toward the greater good of the realm.

What about a bit more “selfish” goal, which only affect the guild at hand? A common goal to strive towards as a guiild.

Guild controllable outposts or something similar, could open up for:

- Small buffs for the guild capitol (when it is implemented, hopefully before launch)
- Vendors
- Crafting stations (more resource efficient or able to craft the highest quality items)
- Quests specific to the outpost
- Guild vs. Guild challenges / wars.
- Etc.

swtor-pvp-bg
5.3 Personal incentive
Death penalty: It doesn’t have to be a major one at all, it could be something along the lines of: item durability loss, gold loss, losing 10% of consumables, etc. If we can just respawn with no impact at all, people won’t care about doing better or becoming a better fighter when it doesn’t matter if you die or not. To create motivation the other way around as well, it could be worth considering, 50 % of the 10 % consumables or gold lost could be rewarded to the champion(s) (of course fairly distributed within the party).

This mechanic would ensure a more exciting and meaningful PvP combat, should it be a fight for a battlestation, capitol spaceship or just as simple as a fight for an outdoor NPC between a Jedi Knigth & a Sith Inquisitor.

Personal character development through points gained via PvP combat. When browsing different community forums, it becomes evident that PvP points is a player favorite. These points are used to choose further development of your class through special skills.

6. Reflection

One of the big questions regarding territorial & world PvP, is the high demand in hardware towards both the client and server side.

At the client side one question comes into mind. Are the players willing to lower their graphical settings to better handle very large scale battles? A quick analysis of the impact of such:

Pros:
- A more smooth (higher frames pr. Second) and ‘lag’ free experience. This way large scale battles won’t become a lag fest.
Cons:
- Signature graphics get lowered to the point of their added game play value gets removed completely.

I highly doubt BioWare will ever officially design a specific part of the game, so you had to lower your graphical settings to enjoy that part. I know EVE players do this on a daily basis to participate in large scale fleet battles, which manages 1000+ players at the same time.

PVP in SWTOR

Server side demands are defiantly doable if BioWare is willing. As mentioned above EVE manages to handle 1000+ on a daily basis, on a random server node (ie. devs cannot predict in which system/server node a given fight will take place). In SWToR BioWare can locate predetermined hotspots.
The thing to keep in mind here (And I’m no expert on the subject) is that EVE’s server setup is a bit different compared to BioWare’s.
Further I would like to add, by combining incentive mechanics like; guild outposts, territorial control and realm relics. The pressure will be divided between different zones of interest.

Death penalty it’s a mystery wrapped in a riddle inside an enigma. Each time you come up with what you think is viable solution a new issue rise.
Either you love it or hate it, how can we solve this issue? If it’s not going to be part of the standard PvP server rule set, an option would be to create a new server type. It’s not like it hasn’t been done before, it is by no means impossible to accomplish. Achieving this would require an investigation of the demand, in other words proof of concept.

Questions to be answered:
What if you participate in a battleground and you die 100 times, because you play a cloth/lightweight/fragilely dependent class?
A notable concern, the following paragraph should not be seen as a bulletproof way to solve the issue, but more along the lines of showing a viable solution is not impossible. One solution could be to have diminishing return based upon; X number of times died within X amount of time. Another could be the possibility of earning some of your loss back through championing PvP objectives or opponents.
Won’t we lose some of our player base= less income?
If the demand is high enough for such ruleset implementation either on the standard PvP server or more ‘hardcore’ one, I see no reason to reach such a conclusion. This way there is actually a clear difference between PvE and PvP.

My question in the official Q&A PvP thread:
What kind of mechanics will you implement, so PVP really matter on a realm/guild level?


Comments are closed.