Asymmetric PvP/warfare and processes of inclusion

Taking from a thread on F13, mine and someone else’s quotes.

This addresses “the problem that isn’t a problem”, meaning the population unbalance in persistent PvP.

People fail to understand that population IS PART of this type gameplay. Those unbalances are part of the system because they ARE the system. We are simulating the “struggle of nations” and even in real history those unbalances existed. History would SUCK if every battle was fought by the exact number of people. Taking all your people into RvR to defend your realm was THE game. This social aspect was THE game. A real motivation: fight for your realm or watch it fall. The realm NEEDS YOU.

The second you have EXACT numbers on either side, this kind of real RvR is over. “Numbers” are the heart of this kind of gameplay, not something to eradicate. The second you decide to lock numbers on either side you don’t have anymore real warfare, you have something else.

So look at this from the other perspective: instead of locking numbers to erase this unbalance, why instead not trying to make the game fun and exciting when you are outnumbered?

This can be done by making correspond to asymmetric numbers also asymmetric objectives. So that these objectives (and victory points you earn) are measured on your *current* condition, and not on the unfair premise that everyone has an equal chance. We *know* that it’s improbable to obtain equal footing in real persistent PvP so we don’t make a game assuming that, we make a game anticipating those problems and around those conditions.

Mythic’s big mistake was to design RvR ideally assuming that the three realms were always symmetric. They are not. The game rules should anticipate and be based on this.

tazelbain: Now with Scenarios giving the most VP, teams with best PvP teams controls the zone. This is a preferable situation because individual players have a better chance of overcome a teamwork gap than the numbers gap.

Nope because this is exclusive PvP. And exclusive PvP means that it’s selective. And selective means that some players get in while other players are left out.

A successful mmorpg must promote inclusion, not exclusion. Battles, the real medieval battles were about inclusion and numbers. Grab a pitchfork and join to fight. But we all also just saw “300”. And we know that a good team CAN overcome numbers. Or at least that’s the myth that games should make us live, because that’s what makes games feel cool and involving. Giving us myths.

The problem of zerg vs zerg must be solved elsewhere. I always said that the game must provide paths (through directed/objective based PvP) so that the game is fun and exciting even and IN PARTICULAR when you are outnumbered, because there’s the potential for something truly “heroic” that the players would love (see 300 again). While it’s dead boring if you know you are winning and the victory doesn’t require any effort.

How to achieve this? Instead of locking the number of players who participate in a defense/attack (which negates the immersion and the WHOLE POINT of the warfare), you give teams different objectives that are balanced for that specific situation.

A concrete example for a taste of what I mean: the team with the large zerg will have the objective (and related victory points) to conquer a castle. The outnumbered defenders will have the objective to defend it *as long as possible*. The more they resist, the more points they earn, and the more they are outnumbered the more the points they earn over time scale up.

Asymmetric/immersive warfare is the whole point of RvR. You just need to make it correspond adaptive/reactive objectives that are balanced to the current status of the realm.

And to precise better: are the game rules to lead the players around and determine what they’ll do and what they’ll avoid. Carrots on a stick, goals, power-ups. That’s what the game is about and what the players chase. They simply go where the best points to be made are.

What’s bad in PvP when you are outnumbered is that you only waste time feeding enemies points without getting anything back. So it’s often better to just /quit.

If this is seen as a problem then you can use the rules to encourage and motivate players to defend. What I mean is that this is ENTIRELY a problem of game rules.

It’s about time that game design starts to “legislate” on this, start working on models, interactions. Because till now RvR was just a big zone with a keep in the middle, with some bleached, gimmick features tacked on it. Not much development went into the actual RvR and warfare, and that’s the main reason why all that potential is untapped.

Just think to what we could have now if RvR had received in the years the same focus and numbers of reiterations that went into PvE.

That’s what I’m saying. RvR is still a closed door. The first step.

On the first question, is open RvR ever going to have mass appeal? I don’t know. Indications from daoc were that it’s worth a try, the casual players genuinely liked 100 v 100 face offs at keeps. The hardcore liked the open aspect of RvR much less, because it diluted their individual advantages. Certainly RvR is the only major thing that is unique to Mythic and WAR – and it’s the only mechanism I’ve seen for having hardcore and casual players interact constructively – so it seems nuts to focus instead on something that is already the focus of games like GW. At the end of the day, what we do know is that meaningful sport pvp is an unlikely premise for a mass appeal game, while RvR is at least unknown.

First off, prep-work. The beauty of RvR prep work was that the double mega hardcore did (and enjoyed) the prep work for the casual masses. Casual players did not have to do prep work for RvR, but double mega hardcore players who wanted to get shit done in RvR had to communicate that prep work to the casuals, it wasn’t perfect, but I have yet to see a better MMOG model for getting hardcores to talk to casuals. Plus prep work was only necessary at all for the very largest RvR events, on your average night of RvR you just use the realm war map to go find the action.

Open RvR remains untested in the market since daoc. And that was pretty much a stealth product by recent standards, I don’t think you can automatically draw conclusions about how an RvR game would do today.

There is significant evidence that meaningful (as opposed to diversionary) sport pvp is hard to sustain in a typical mmog setting because it dramatically emphasizes differences in player skill, at the same time as limiting community size and so forcing the uber up against the noob too often.

But at the same time, the best you can say for RvR is that people who tried it usually liked it.

In daoc, assuming you survive to level 50 rr4 or so (ie. rvr viable, and yes, that needs to come sooner in WAR), your realm is, in effect, a form of guild.

But in a normal guild, the guild community can form around social links, and so it is naturally cohesive. In a realm on the other hand, the game has to build a community around the arbitary membership of the realm.

If people (scrubs included) don’t care that scrub participation in sport pvp hurts the realm, that means you didn’t set up an environment which builds the community right, and as such you already failed the most important precondition to make RvR work.

This is really key, if you make everyone believe they are involved in a genuinely realm versus realm competition, and believe that they can contribute, and believe that the rest of the realm is on their side; then tbh most other stuff falls into place by itself. DAOC was built entirely on that principle, in that game pve was ostensibly about building community, and open-RvR was how the community entertained itself on an open-ended basis.

A quote

A quote from Scott Hartsman. One of the few devs I still respect and have esteem for.

In online games beyond the boutique scale, you are #1 or you are Everyone Else.

“#1” obeys certain rules that I won’t get into, but stability-to-growth becomes easier and you’re far more protected from loss, barring extreme triggers.

For “Everyone Else,” the converse is true: You are generally in a net state of subtraction over time. It’s just a matter of the rate. It takes extreme triggers to cause stability or gain.

For an MMO in the Everyone Else category, overall stability is actually a significant victory.

Therefore, saying that “EQ2’s investment isn’t paying off,” is most definitely incorrect — It’s paying off in that “stability” means we have a large percentage more subscribers right now than we would have had otherwise.

Worth quoting and giving it some visibility as it’s true in general and not just for EQ2.