by Garrett Fuller

In general, PvP is a major part of MMOGs, one that continues to go down
the path of instancing. Instances are not necessarily a bad thing, but
they need to be used strategically and not be the sole purpose behind a
player’s battlefield. This is where style="font-style: italic;">World of Warcraft
lost its punch in the PvP venue. The Battlegrounds became the only
place to really fight it out with other players, were few in number,
and only offered players’ limited options as to how a battle
would be won. Unlike the open-ended nature of style="font-style: italic;">Dark Age of Camelot's
realm vs. realm combat, the battles were already constructed for you.
Capture the flag, defend the keep, or conquer and hold are all good
ideas in an open fight, but when they are forced upon a player it
becomes the same thing over and over again. Is there such a thing as a
PvP grind? Yes I believe there is.

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style="font-style: italic;">Fury has been built
from the group up to be the ultimate PvP experience.

Fury has
done a great job of using instances for players. In the more team based
combat areas, each instance has direct goals, but players have more of
an open format in how to achieve them. No one is forced to play by
certain rules in order to win. Also, if you are really someone who
doesn’t like to play by the rules or with a group, then the
last man standing PvP battlefield is for you. There is something to be
said for solo PvP fights. The most fun I can remember in the early days
of World of Warcraft
were those open fights on the PvP server when it was 3 vs. 3 or 2 vs.2.
Fury lends
itself to this style of combat and works well for players.  

EVE Online’s
PvP is vicious and brutal, yet it remains open to players. It takes
place in open space where ships can fight it out in small groups or in
huge fleet battles. No one is forced into a style of combat; the combat
and battle remain open in the persistent world. I certainly do not view
this as the answer, as open world PvP has been around from the
beginning of MMOGs. The real question is how can we expand open world
combat and give players a fun battle ground to fight in? Many players
will always go for the biggest advantage in a battle, which really
comes down to terrain and types of battlefields. If you put castle
sieges into a game, make sure you give the melee combat players
something to do rather than just sit there and wait for the gates to
open. Giving players a battlefield where the fighting is fast and open
still remains the best option. Forcing players to fight over the same
objectives in a repeating format does not strive for any kind of
originality. If you can offer a battle field that gives players a lot
of options then there will be more variety in PvP.  

When it comes to fighting you truly have to think of what old world
combat in a fantasy game and futuristic tactics in a space game would
truly be like. Look at fighting styles and tactics that players enjoy
and use the most and work with them once the game is released. The
gank-group tactics in Dark
Age of Camelot
were very popular and worked great for
players. There were open battlefields that everyone could fight in
along with castles to defend. When DAoC upgraded to the more expansive
Frontiers expansion, they added too many castle battles into the mix.
This led to more stagnant battles and took away the open field fighting
for the melee classes. There were some great ideas in Frontiers, but
the castle content only gave the casters and shooters more to do and
the tanks and DPS classes got left out of the fight.  

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style="font-style: italic;">The world in EVE
Online is a dark and twisted place, where people are willing to kill
you on a whim.

If you plan on having siege style battles in PvP, be sure to give
players the options to get into the fight. No one likes waiting, no one
likes having to use their single thrown weapon attack to do battle when
they spent months getting their Giant Axe of Doom. PvP combat in a
fantasy setting needs to have options for players. Tanks should charge,
block spells with powerful shields, fight it out to get to the healers,
and eventually turn the battle lines into an open crazed melee where no
one is safe. Think of those ancient battles of the past, or even
battles in the present day. Once those bullets start flying, it can
turn into a free for all real quick.  

Designing a player vs. player combat system is not easy by any means.
Character balance is the first four hundred foot hurdle you have to
overcome. However, once you have that system beat, you can focus on
what makes the fight fun for players. No one likes the player who
exploits sitting on the roof and blasting characters who
can’t get to him. Sure he maybe having fun, but you have to
give players a way to get to him and throw him off that tower. Or
charge him and watch him jump to his death!  

Designers need to think of more and more ways to make combat among
players fun. That’s the bottom line. Players want to get into
the fight, they do not want to wait. If you spend hours of play gearing
up for top level PvP then you should be able to get exactly that when
you're ready. Also, keep the fights fun. If I’m a huge
warrior, give me a chance to get to the wizard blasting me with spells.
I may have to use some abilities to do it, but players need options. No
player enjoys a quick fight where they die instantly after two hits.
Creating things like counters and blocks bring more tactics to the
fight. Granted you don’t want ten minute fights between
players, but anything more than ten seconds just adds to the adrenaline
rush of PvP combat. Keeping a fight time frame balance is a great area
to work with.  

Overall PvP has come a long way in MMOGs. Some techniques have worked
and others have failed. I still remember being nervous as I left the
cities in Ultima Online
and wandered out into Brittania knowing Player Killers were around.
That sense of excitement needs to be added to PvP. With the current
batch of MMOGs making death nothing more than a few minute delay in a
fight, PvP could certainly use a shot in the arm of excitement and
risk. Let’s hope the upcoming games get a good sense of what
works. Until then I’ll see you in the queue.

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Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016