PvP design philosophy

Discussing on the forums the Factional Warfare concept that I criticized here revealed something rather important: I’m ranting about a game that I don’t play.

Moreover, I’m ranting simply because CCP design didn’t follow my own expectations and desires. And obviously CCP isn’t my property and what I personally think doesn’t matter.

So: I’m ranting because an hardcore game is made for its audience, and not for me.

Sure. I anticipated this and explained my reasons on the first post I wrote recently. Where I wrote that my opinion is that Eve-Online has reached its critical mass and if they now want new players they need to start open up their systems. Bridging the early (and dull) game to the more deep stuff.

Factional Warfare isn’t doing that, and I ranted.

This also raised again the idea of a PvP design philosophy. A concept that I would like to see in at least ONE game. But that right now is completely absent from the market.

Which would be then meaningful only if there would be a big market for it. I believe there is. And that it is commercially BIGGER than what we have currently (for PvP). So: design philosophy and personal opinions. Personal opinions that matter not because *I* write them, but because when I write them I also *motivate* them.

This PvP design philosophy is about the progression system. Every decent system needs a progression. And every decent progression needs to be accessible. So that everyone can move through. More slowly or faster, but still move through.

Translating this to PvP simply means: PvP will NEVER be accessible and widespread if it works at a loss. So this is how it should work: if you want a system where PvP is more frequent and fun, then you need a system where people can participate without losing more they can gain.

In a system where the experienced players are MUCH, MUCH powerful than new people who enter for the first time, you need some mechanic to leverage them. Especially in the longer term, when people who are already inside become more and more powerful and the wall to climb for the new players higher and higher. In Eve it doesn’t matter if there’s a corp who decides to take over, new players won’t have a chance if they enter a system where EVERYONE is more powerful than they are.

For PvP to work and be popular and widespread entry costs need to stay low. As low as possible.

In Eve-Online and other “hardcore” PvP games the costs are instead higher to the lower end than the higher end, where you can develop a fair margin of wealth to stay safe. Noobs pay higher costs than veterans. And this creates a gap between players that is harder and harder to fill, in a similar fashion to what happens with PvE raiding endgame. The game becomes increasingly specialized and less and less appealing and accessible for new players. That for a MMO equals to a progressive, unavoidable decline.

So: a PvP system with very low entry costs and at a gain. Where you gain through participation. Progressively.

In EVERY game and PvP systems you die a lot when you enter for the first time. In Eve-Online not only you would die a lot, but you’ll also PAY a lot. So a lot of players shy away because the game isn’t for them, while a smaller subset cling to the mechanic and find an exponential success, because once you climb the wall you can look down at things from far above. And it is rewarding.

But it’s also an overall mechanic that is divisive and that works only toward a minority. A minority that will be eroded over time.

This means it is a choice, and that there’s nothing wrong to make a game that aims at a niche. But you also have to recognize and admit what you’re doing.

I’m not fighting against the idea that hardcore players shouldn’t have their game. But that PvP can be both deep and accessible. And I want to play that game. And I believe it would be extremely successful.

I don’t like the idea that I have to grind boring PvE missions for a week so that I’m able to participate in PvP for an hour. PvE should never be a requirement so that you can enjoy some PvP. I want a PvP system where participation costs are LOWER than the rewards. So that I can stick to it and continue to play and have fun. Without punishing mechanics to push me to the lowest risks.

These are the points I’ve offered for Eve:
* Open/factional PvP should be limited to SPECIFIC battleground systems tagged for Factional Warfare. While secure space should stay secure even if you are signed in.
* Within these tagged systems NPC factions should provide you the “gear” to use. Gain ranks to get access to better gear/PvP sets. If you blow up, you get replacements. As long you fight for them. (free participation costs)
* Forbid players to bring NPC-rented equipment outside battleground systems. So that the gear you gain can only be used inside this system. (not disrupting the current game)
* Forbid you to swap sets. So that you are only able to fly in NPC-rent sets, and not bring a goddamned Titan to a noob battleground.

The last point would allow these battles to be accessible to everyone, both noobs and hardcore, and yet provide equal opportunities as no one gets access to more powerful stuff.

That’s how you “train” people to PvP. By making it fun, accessible and frequent.

To these proposals some players replied that the PvP would lose all “meaningfulness” if you don’t risk to lose anything anymore. To that I replied that for me “meaningful PvP” is about communal objectives. Conquering and holding public space, expanding the empire.

I don’t intend and don’t like “meaningful” as a personal cost.

With that, I hope the argument is exhausted in all its points.

– lowering entry costs
– provide plenty of targets
– create a convergence
– add a strategic communal layer (conquest mode)

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