This spawns from a blog post where Ubiq talks a bit about Mythic’s Warhammer (at least what he reads about the game).
Now I already followed and discussed things in the past, so I could better portray how Warhammer PvP and territorial control should work. *IF* what I understood is correct and there haven’t been significant changes in the meantime (I give them the benefit of the doubt).
In short you may think to Dark Messiah multiplayer and have a good idea about how this system (here I’m focusing on the territorial control) should work.
At the “endgame” Warhammer should have five zones for each of the three “war fronts”. One war front for orcs/goblins vs dwarves, one for Chaos vs Empire and one for Dark Elves vs High Elves.
Of these five zones two should be the rival “capital cities” raid zones that Ubiq talks about. The ultimate siege that may trigger the definitive victory and the supposed “reset button”.
Now, as in Dark Messiah, each of those zones should be closed and instanced “scenarios”. If your faction achieves particular objectives and “wins” that scenario, there’s a “map switch” that moves ideally closer to the losing faction capital city.
So these capital cities aren’t player-populated “hubs”, but only combat scenarios that are “unlocked” through a campaign mode that implies the victory on previous maps/scenarios.
You start from the neutral map -> win it -> move to the one closer to the enemy capital city -> win that too -> and finally the “capital city” scenario is unlocked -> win it -> (supposed) system reset
If Mythic is smart, only one of the five endgame maps is going to be active at the same time (outlining the campaign progression), so a player should have a choice between three maps where he can go PvP (one for each warfront). Helping a lot to focus the PvP action instead of dispersing it among too many zones as it currently happens in DAoC.
On the other side, if there are too many players packed into one zone, the instance system triggers and creates more balanced “mirrors” of the same scenario.
So this should address effectively the two main issues, the convergence required for the PvP and the overcrowding.
Ubiq: That being said, the question I’m most interested in is how a side that has been utterly decimated to the point that the capital is in ruins can hope to come back to turn the tide. While I genuinely love city conquest scenarios (I feel they capture the ‘massive’ part of what MMOs are supposed to be), most territorial control games are progressive – a game design term meaning that the winners tend to keep winning, as they gain more and more spoils of war, and more and more players on the losing side feel the desire to join up and/or play. This problem was a very tough issue for both Shadowbane and Dark Age of Camelot to deal with.
Long ago I had proposed an idea for DAoC that I think would work well (if not, I’m still wondering why).
Basically each keep can be upgraded to level 10 and levels make guards stronger, among other things.
Currently all keeps can be upgraded to level 10 with no limits (if not limits of time).
My simple idea was add a fixed cap for each realm.
For example you have five keeps for each realm, 15 in total for all three realms and you give each realm a cap of 50 points.
Since you begin with five keeps, you can upgrade all five of them to level 10, using up all your 50 points.
But then, as you conquer keeps from other realms the situation changes and you need to spread those points. You’ll likely try to upgrade your new keep so that it is well defended, but doing so would mean removing levels from your other keeps to upgrade the new one.
The other side of the medal is that the realm losing one keep gets back those 10 points that it used there. And the idea was that you could “overload” the level of your keep above ten, but where every point above ten would cost (x-10)+1 (so to go from a level 10 keep to a level 11 you would need to use two points, to go to 12, use 3, then four and so on).
The result would be that the more a realm expands, the more it becomes also harder to defend, because it exposes more weak spots as the points need to be spread between more keeps, while the realm who is losing can concentrate the strength on a stronghold and make it really hard to capture.
This means that the realm who is losing isn’t left staring passively, but it is given the possibility to counterattack effectively through smaller strike teams aiming at the weak points.
The overall idea is the one of the rubber banding. The more you force a situation, the harder it is to maintain it.
(that was the problem back then. Today players don’t even care about keeps and it’s all reduced to 8vs8 ganking groups)
Jason Booth: Territory is tricky, but I think it can be done in a satisfying way. I think the trick is really in convincing people that the inevitable loss of territory is part of the fun. It’s hard to convince people of this, so it must be some fundamental part of your reward system instead. Push the boulder up the hill, get distracted by shinny cookie, let the bounder roll back down again – but you get to keep your cookie.
Instead I think it can be done through gameplay. My idea is that being on the losing side with the possibility to turn the tide can be even more satisfying and fun than being on the winning one.
The problem is to provide gameplay alternatives, ways to effectively counterattack so that the losing side has something to do.
If what is left to do is get steamrolled by a zerg for the next two hours, the player logs out frustrated. The point is to offer gameplay alternatives.
The point is to foresee these situations, and design solutions so that the game offers things to do in those cases.
About the “reset button” or the boulder pushed up hill, Mythic model in DAoC is already stronger.
The donut is represented by the relics. Not only you get to keep the donut/relic, but the donut also becomes a “ransom” that the other realm will eventually want to get back.
So a victory doesn’t also lead to a reset (after a relic is captured things slowly fall back in normality) but also as the starting point for what’s next.