A Story of Ganking, Griefing, and Glory
by: Tony "RadarX" Jones, Savanja, and Paul "Slide" Shortt
Many players have been waiting with bated breath for Player versus Player (PvP) combat to come to Everquest 2. All their hopes and prayers were answered recently, when it was announced this mechanic would be included with the release of Kingdom of Sky. So to summarize that news, let the smack talk begin! After reading the announcement it occured to me that first SOE wanted to go in a little bit different direction with their PvP rules and second I'm out of snack packs (which is a PvP staple).
They say great minds think alike, so I persuaded Slide and Savanja to sit down for a minute with me to give their opinions on the changes coming. Of course they told me no, so I stole their hard drives and threaten to fill them both with nothing but reruns of Spongebob and Teletubbies (who are most assuredly the devil). Fortunately, they finally agreed to my terms (especially Savanja who seemed very concrened with what was on her hard drive) and sat down to discuss PvP.
PvP seems to be a critical mechanic in almost every MMO's these days. What do you think the big draw to it is?
Savanja: I think it's rather obvious what the draw to PvP is. Excitement. PvE tends to be a little slower paced, and there is only so much you can do. PvE mobs are all so predictable, once you learn the mechanics of the game you are playing, it's not hard to judge what you can take, and how to take it. PvP adds some flavor in that, you cannot predict the skill of an actual player character, and it becomes a real test of a gamers abilities.
Slide: It's like any other game on the market. Most games are PvP right down to the good old fashioned games of "Go Fish". Playing a computer can be fun for a while, but the AI becomes pretty predictable and, well, player AI is the best out there. It's nice to know that a warm body is actually getting pummeled and know's who the boss is. /flex
RadarX: Artificial Intelligence (AI) has long been a dream of researchers and scientists. In recent video games in particular, a significant amount of time and effot has been put into AI. No matter how complex the scripting is, and how much the computer generated enemy can seem like it's "thinking", it will never match the genious, and unpredictability of a human mind.
The abilities and tactics of an environmentally created enemy will eventually be figured out and weaknesses exploited. Mix that with the sheer number of creatures in a Player versus Environment game, how much time can developers really spend on AI? It'll never come close to a real persons tactics.
Why do you think SOE waited as long as they did to bring PvP to Everquest 2?
Savanja: I believe that it was made clear from the beginning that they were looking to make EQ2 the kind of game that would be constantly and forever evolving, to help foster longevity. This wasn't meant to be a "finished" game right out of the gates. And steadily, that is what we are seeing, EQ2 is molding itself to market trends, and doing so easily, all because they didn't rush to insert half-assed concepts, that would have been a serious pain to alter later had it not been done properly. They weren't ready to put in PvP, and they didn't until they had the time and resouces to dedicate to it.
Slide: I don't think SOE ever intended for the game to be PvP. It seems to me that they wanted to be the odd man out and let the environment do the fighting for them. SOE didn't want players to get angry with a game meant for hardcore PvPers. They wanted EVERYONE to enjoy the game for what it was, a nice adventure game that holds very little paranoia with a larger demographic than other MMORPGs. That demographic appealed to both hardcore and casual gamers anywhere form 10 to 50 years of age. (but that's just my opinion). Even now, PvP is only showing up on 2 servers. It's not like the whole gaming community is going to be forced upon it.
RadarX: It appears to me at launch, SOE didn't feel they even needed PvP. They always hung the "it's a possibility but there are no plans at this time" answer out there any time it was asked. Why? Every other MMO to date had PvP? Were they that confident in their product, or was there just not enough time? It seems World of Warcraft kind of made up their mind for them.
SOE's statement reads that only players within a certain level range are "valid targets." This is a shift from the normal PvP rules we see in other MMO's. Do you think this will work?
Savanja: Anyone that has ever been taken down in one hit while loading into a noobie zone by a higher level player, knows that rules like this are neccessary to prevent mass griefing. Will it work? It should. There's no honor in one player, defeating his opponent, if he's 10 levels above.
Slide: It could work. This is SOE just trying to "keep it fair". I thinnk that after a while, new players starting out on these new PvP servers will find it more difficult to find battles. At first it will be great with everyone starting at the same level, beating each other up, but eventually it will spread out enough so that it's not going to be that easy to find a fight. I don't know... maybe that's the point.
RadarX: This is an usual move, and perhaps SOE's attempt to distinguish themselves from normal PvP. Normal PvP would give you "dishonorable kills" but doesn't limit who you can attack based on level. I think the real question here is "Will it work?" It sounds great on paper but you'll need a pretty ample player base to make it work. I'm hoping it pans out.
Should there be PvP rewards? What kind of rewards would you like to see?
Savanja: Yes, there should be. I think that faction, experience, status, and titles are all good. Rewards purchased from vendors with the earned status points, it all should be meaningful. I really wouldn't want to see coin or loot drops from PvP kills. That never ends up working like it should.
Slide: Sure! I think there should be a ranking system of some sort or maybe a way to see how many battles a player has won and lost (this seems to work great for online services like XBox Live or other online gaming services). Perhaps there could be titles to pick from or some other fluff rewards like a medal or armor. Fighters need gold too. Why not be able to take a piece of your PvP apponent with you that you could sell to a special merchant for PvP points similar to the status point system?
RadarX: As powerful of a reward bragging rights are, the ability to "pwn" only lasts so long. There should be pieces of armor, weapons, titles, insignia, shouts from heaven as you defeat enemies....ok maybe not ALL that. There has to be a system in place to reward players for kills. I'm almost positive something will go into place soon after PvP launches. My vote is for the shouts from heaven.
Do you forsee any type of instanced, goal based PvP like WoW's "Battleground" in the EQ2 future?
Savanja: I would LOVE to see that implemented. Guild vs. Guild events. Open, City vs. City events. I was a big fan of DAoC PvP because of the way they did it, and seeing some similiar structure set up within the PvP servers, would totally draw me to them.
Slide: While I don't know exactly what "Battleground" is, I think I know what it's purpose is. I could see SOE doing anything that WoW does at this point. They seem to be trying to follow closely in their footsteps. With the popularity that is WoW, I don't entirely blame them.
RadarX: World of Warcraft is without any doubt one of the most successfuly MMO's of all time. The mechanics they are using, are proving successfuly and "Battlegrounds" is one of those mechanics. To stay competitive it would be in their best interest to develop it. I'm personally not a huge fan of the "RPG meets Counterstrike" feel but a lot of people enjoy it, and it seems to be popular.
How will the severing of communications between good and evil affect things in your opinion?
Savanja: Well, it will limit people on race and class choices if they wish to play with guildmates and/or friends. But, I believe it to be a neccessary limitation. Don't go into City vs. City PvP with the lame idea that you will be grouping up with the opposing city's inhabitants. It defeats the whole storyline and purpose.
Slide: I think that's the ultimate idea. It seems to me that SOE is trying really hard to implement the original idea of keeping the cities seperate. The addition of PvP is a perfect way to keep the seperation alive. On regular servers, it doesn't really matter who you are or where you're from. Everyone can group and get along with no penalty. Even mailing members of the opposite city is going to become a reality in live update 19. SOE tried to start city vs. city battle by putting in the Sabotage quests. Yeah... that kind of flopped. There were no real rewards or consequences. SO... I think seperating communication between the two cities is a step in what SOE really wanted to do in the first place, but I don't think players will take kindly to it especially after playing a certain way for over a year.
RadarX: If this were put on the regular live servers I could only imagine the outrage of the villagers. I haven't read where they are going to offer transfers and I don't imagine they would on a brand new server but we'll see. If they don't, this will create a whole wave of new guilds and give meaning to having a "good" and "evil" city. Not being able to group I understand, but not communicating with the opposing faction I think might be a little too much. I see it as inconvienient but necessary.
Thanks to Slide and Savanja for spending a few minutes sharing their thoughts. PvP is coming to a new server near you so get your "uberness" on and get ready to go Mortal Kombat on somebody.
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