Loose brainstorming session on PvP blended with PvE

(if you cannot suffer my long posts just look the end, there’s a summary)

A discussion on EverQuest 2 PvP triggered some thoughts about impelementing a PvP model that would blend at best with a PvE game. Where one part isn’t detrimental to the other and with a goal to create a system that is fun, deep and still easily approachable for non-hardcore players.

Something that could be enjoyable for the majority of the players instead of a small niche.

The first part is about some general considerations I made, the second part is more about pulling ideas. This is just a five minutes brainstorming session, so don’t look for the details, polish or possible exploits. It’s just the scheme I would start to work on.

Open field PvP, to work and remain fun when is paralleled with PvE just CANNOT have rewards attached to it. This is why WoW’s PvP was so much enriching before they ruined it with the honor system.

This doesn’t mean that I believe that PvP should have no rewards. But it should have PvP rewards (skills, powers or loot, it’s not so important) tied with PURPOSES, OBJECTIVES. And not the free ganking. I don’t want to reward gankers in any way.

The scheme should be like this:
– Open PvP without restriction outside the newbie areas (WoW’s distinction between “friendly” and “contested” is good, so I would retain it).
– No penalty for the victim. No xp debt, nor any other kind of penalty for who is killed. The small timesink is enough.
– No reward for the attacker. The PvP should retain a roleplay value. Meaning that the “free ganking” shouldn’t be punished nor rewarded. Attacking another character should be remain asn open choice and the game shouldn’t artificially push a decision on you.
– Special PvP goals (towns, towers, hot spots that the players can battle over) in BOTH dedicated areas and normal PvE areas.
– Points awarded EXCLUSIVELY by conquering and holding these “hotspots” and not for the direct kills.

This is the perfect model for a game where PvE and PvP have to coexist.

The PvP goals/hotspots would attract most of the PvP action, still blending uniformly with the non-instanced game world. This would bring to life the environment and the various zones, while still remaining accessible and fun for the new players.

The next step is to figure out some ideas (and override some of those above) to give more consistency to the system. Adding a meaningful PvP scheme to an open PvE world isn’t easy for a number of reasons.

These ideas are based on games build with the same structure of WoW or EQ2. So there are two factions and they share a single PvE world where the players engage mostly in PvE activities. As I write in the first point above, I like the separation between “friendly” and “contested” zones, so this idea will be carried over.

The first point to figure out is about two aspects of the same problem. The first is that in a PvE world with an high number of zones you have to find ways to consolidate the PvP action only in a small number of “hotspots”, or the action would be too spreaded out and it would be too hard to find some quick PvP action without sitting in one place and hoping someone to pass through. This is the first goal.

The second problem is about the reward. If we don’t award points for a direct kill, but only for conquering a PvP objective, the risk is that the two factions will avoid each other to farm points passively. My original idea was in fact to add hotspots that could be conquered and then “held”. Pretty much as it happens in Arathi Basin (WoW) you gain points over time till you have that hotspot capped. As you can imagine this idea is already broken because the players in a huge world like the one in EQ2 or WoW, would just go to cap undefended hotspots to farm points while sitting idle. This is obviously not fun, nor an incentive for PvP (which assumes the players whacking each other, and not sitting). So this idea needs to be discarded.

At the same time, though, I still want to reward the players for PvP goals and objectives and not for the pure ganking. So I need a way to:
1- Have the whole game world enabled for PvP but still focusing the PvP action only in a few spots at any given time.
2- Reward the players for accomplishing objectives instead of ganking.
3- Reward the players for active battles and fights instead of encouraging the players to avoid each other to farm point passively.

To begin with, each “contested” zone can be actively conquered by one of the two player factions. The ownerships could influence an overall layer (like granting bonuses like DAoC’s relic system) but wouldn’t affect the PvP rules in that zones. So if a contested zone remains neural or is “capped” by the good or the evil faction, the rules don’t change and everyone can still initiate attacks at will.

The first design goal is that, at any given time, the majority of the contested zones should remain neutral (first point listed) and only 3-5 zones should instead be “flaming”, meaning that a battle is taking place in that zone (also flagged so in the map, so that the players can quickly see if where a battle is taking place). The consequence of this is that in all the contested zones that remain neutral (again the majority) the PvP is open but yelds no reward. This means that ganking in those zones is possible but it remains an open choice that the game doesn’t promote in any way. So the players are supposed to go questing with relative ease as it happened in WoW before the introduction of the Honor System.

The next step is to push the game in this direction. So how to prevent the players to go conquer all the map at the same time? Initially I was thinking about having NPCs defending these hotspots, making the players work hard to conquer one, but then I got a much simpler idea that can totally eliminate the need of NPCs.

PvP Hotspots

Each contested zone should have one and only one “hotspot”. These hotspots can vary depending on the zone. They can be a tower, a small camp, a village, a huge town, a fort and so on. They basically consist in an empty structure that should grant the defenders a tactical advantage and a flag to cap as in WoW’s battlegrounds. In WoW the zones usually have one village/camp for the Alliance and another for the Horde. In my idea these wouldn’t be affected by the PvP system. The “hotspots” are a completely different point on the map so that the battles won’t focus on those villages, disrupting the gameplay for those who only want to PvE and need access to the NPCs.

Each “hotspot” could have different “requirements”. For example you would need at least 10 players if you are going to “cap” a small outpost, while you would need more if you are going to “cap” a bigger hotspot. This would differentiate the PvP zones, so that some zones would be appropriate for smaller battles, while other adjusted for bigger ones. The requirement is simply based on the number of players in the proximity of the hotspots. So if you don’t have enough players with you, you just wouldn’t able to cap the hotspot. It’s a very simple mechanic.

If the requirements are met, the hotspot will begin to shine even at a long distance and a warning broadcasted to the whole zone. This means that the opposite faction will know that an hotspot is being capped. There’s also a timer before the players will be successfully conquer the hotspot and put *their guild flag* on it. Once the hotspot is conquered, it will start to reward PvP points over time to ALL the players within a radius from the hotspot. The more the time passes, the more points will be awarded and the “bounty” on that hotspot will rise.

In order to prevent the players to passively farm points, these rewards over time are still supposed to be minimal and not an optimized way to achieve a good amount of PvP points. So what’s the optimal pattern?

Hotspot radiuses

The idea is that, once an hotspot is capped, the PvP rules on that zone will be affected. It means that all the kills in the proximity of a capped hotspot will start to be worth PvP points. This radius is supposed to cover at least 2/3 of the whole zone. The more you are closer to the hotspot, the more points your kills are worth. This means that the players will be encouraged to focus their PvP activity as close as possible to the hotspot, creating again a “meeting point” and without disrupting the gameplay of those who don’t want to get involved (who also have the possibility to move to another zone where there isn’t an active PvP battle going on, see [1] above).

As there are requirements to cap an hotspot, there are requirements to hold it. For example, if the hotspot needs at least 15 players to be capped, it would require at least five players to remain there defending. If less than five players remain there the hotspot would return neutral on its own and ready to be capped again by another group.

That’s pretty much the whole idea. I’m not sure I explained it clearly but it is rather simple and intuitive. I believe it would be fun and not even too hard to implement in a game structured like WoW or EQ2.

In short:

– The contested zones have one conquerable “hotspot” each. The players can organize and go cap one, putting their guild flag on it. The hotspots don’t have any NPCs defending them, just players. Once capped all the kills taking place in the proximity of the hotspot will start to be worth points. Enocuraging the PvP action to move away from the PvE hubs (villages, towns, camp spots), so without disrupting the gameplay of those who don’t want to bother.

This coordinated with what I wrote above. So no xp penalties, no looting, no incentives for the free kills whatsoever and completely open PvP in all the contested zones.

Tell me how this wouldn’t be so much more fun, involving and still accessible compared to all the other PvP implementation we’ve seen till today. Tell me why it wouldn’t work plugged in directly into WoW or EQ2, And tell me why it wouldn’t be better than their official rulesets built by experienced dev teams.

Tell me why.

Leave a Reply