Monday, August 20, 2007

What about the PvP?

Some people like safe PvE, some people like arena-style PvP, and some people want unrestricted PvP. You can't please everyone, of course, but I realize I've talked very little about possible PvP rules. What could be done to try to please everyone would be to split the server into multiple parts, allowing different rule sets for each server. I, however, am not a real fan of multiple servers situations, so I will use my impressive intellect to find a better solution.

The first condition is that newcomers must be protected from killers, so as to not lose them to griefers. This can be accomplished by making protected zones for newcomers and a harsh legal system; you don't expect a pardon in real life because you killed two people less than the limit this week, and so people who kill others without justification will be counted as criminals and will be fair game for bounty hunters and guards (both player and Non-). Criminals would have to establish their own cities, hidden and protected from the rest of the world, just to be able to survive in the harsh world.

Another condition for a well-established PvP system is that people in need of non-non-player-character blood can find somewhere to soothe their anger. For that, duel, events (of, say, the jousting kind) and battlegrounds need to be established; and I'm not talking about fighting over and over and over and over again the the same, boring maps against (and with) random people to collect meaningless tokens. What I mean is that war has to be a very real thing, and people can go to war if their neighbors aren't trustworthy. Or they annoy them. Or they looked at them funny. Might want to be careful though, alliances are a hard thing to forge sometimes.

Finally, you can't have a decent PvP system without some reward for the winner, and penalty for the losers. In World of Warcraft, winners are rewarded a few shinnies more than the losers. You get paid for participating, and even that is optional, as you can be standing still the whole time and get the same rewards as your allies. That's not a decent PvP system, that's throwing some bones at people who request fillet mignon.

What they should get is a reason to kill people, a reason to group up against evil and a reason to run away in front of superior forces. Of course, corpse looting is out of the question, as it is too harsh a punishment when the cause of the death can be in no way the fault of the player. Experience penalties could exist, but in this case they would have to be per-skill, which means people with more skills get punished more; it also means that you would either have to lose some moves, or not have any penalty if you have no skill points left, so the whole thing is out of the question. You could have a monetary penalty, but banking, whether official or not (through the use of mules) would make losing money for death pretty pointless. And of course, permanent penalties, like stat loss, would drive players away faster than an exploiter on pre-patch day.

This leaves us with compulsory monetary penalties, a.k.a. item damage, and temporary debuffs. The former is pretty self-explanatory, and although small, does provide an important deterrent to risky actions. The latter, known as resurrection sickness, means that the player would be next to useless for a certain amount of time after death. Resurrection sickness could use a small overhaul, however, as a flat (dependent on level, usually) rate for death hardly seems like a fair deterrent.

First of all, the amount and time of the sickness should depend on the type of death the player suffered. If it is Death From Having Your Toes Bit Off By A Rat, then there's no penalty; you just get back up somewhere safe and go off killing more rodents. If it's Death By Player Killing, then check how Killed you were. Is it just a bad guy killing an unwary traveller? Then the player is found by local authorities and can resume normal activities within a few minutes. Or is it an army pillaging all in its path while mowing down all opposition? Then chances are you won't be of much help in the near future, otherwise you would just as soon go back into battle. The harder the death, the harsher the penalty should be.

But death penalty alone does not create a fair PvP system. To be fair, you also need to reward the winner. Of course, when you fight, you gain skill experience; there's no reason fighting another human being wouldn't teach you just as much as fighting NPCs would. The real problem is that, since corpse looting is a big no-no, and duplicating items to the winner is out of the question, then there's little incentive to fight. Rewards can be posted for killing enemies, but those would have to be either small, or come from the players' own collective pockets, otherwise they are too prone to abuse. The only way to reward players who help their team by showing up regularly in the battlefield is to give them fancy titles, which gives them benefits toward allied NPCs, as well as bragging rights (read : show how much they lack a social life).

Of course, all of this needs some serious balancing; no doubt important exploits would be exploited, loopholes looped and flaws taken advantages of, but with lots of hard work and hours spent telling your boss you're just testing the game, you'll eventually come with a good, stable system. That, or you'll just revert back to the lowest common denominator, and in the process scare away players who wanted something new.

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