Open World PVP – It’s that 80/20 thing…
“One way to kill PvP servers is to introduce PvE servers.
What are you going to prey on if all the lambs are gone? Wolfs hunting wolfs…”
That quote is from a poster named Quirhid in a recent thread entitled “Six Ways to Destroy a PVP Server” on MMORPG.com.
To a certain degree I feel he is right, and it’s because there seems to be some thinking on the part of both players and devs, completely contrary to history and experience, that a good PVP server has to be solely PVP. It is the current all or nothing approach that makes the statement very valid in today’s MMO market.
For a shooter or a game like GW where people are jumping into PVP from Day One, I’d say that’s doable. However, if there is going to be PVE content, especially PvE content that works in conjunction with the PVP content in any way, it seems the best way to design the PVP server is to offer some level of insulation to from the PVP for those that want to enjoy the PvE.
While a lot of Old School PKs may disagree, the introduction of Trammel was a leap forward from the guard zones of the cities. I’d venture to say that if the original UO had more guarded hunting grounds, housing areas and dungeons, then Trammel would never have been necessary and UO would have done even better from the very start. This is because the PVPers need resources and crafted materials in UO to riase skilss or fight better. Now, each person has a certain aspect of a game that they like to focus on. The more the PvPer can enjoy PVPing and not doing activities he needs to do rather than wants to do, the more he is a happy camper. The best way to facilitate that is to create an environment such that the gatherer and the baker and the tailor can all provide those things. Well, What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, and if someone really enjoys sewing up badass armor sets, they want to spend their time doing that and not spend it running from axe-wielding fireball-casting maniacs at every corner. By building the worldspace so that each playstyle can go about their thing with more DO WANT game time and less NEED TO game time, the more fun it is for everyone.
The games that have successfully done that in one server while maintaining a certain level of world PVP (examples: UO, EVE, Runescape, Puzzle Pirates) have done so by creating a world where the 20% or so of the playerbase that wants to frag each other to death has plenty of space to do that while the 80% of the player base that wants to enjoy the 80% of the content that doesn’t involve homicidal wilding can do that with minimal or greatly reduced fear of an unpleasant experience.
Now, some may feel that I am advocating a softer world and not truly in favor of a ‘real’ PVP server. My contention is the opposite – in my dream MMO, the PVPers are killing each other, not killing tailors. They throw the spoils of war at the tailor and say “Sew me armor, bitch,” and the tailor gladly does it… at 400% markup. Such a scenario can’t happen if your PVPers are ganking dressmakers for months until the dressmakers flee the game in horror.
IMO, a good world PVP server offers reasonable protection (not necessarily complete protection) in the majority of the worldspace from PVP in order to allow the other playstyles to flourish unmolested. Not only does this go a long way toward making the PvE content more enjoyable, but it makes the PVP gameplay more enjoyable as well, by allowing the presence of a deeper and more varied gameplay experience surrounding the PVP.