PvP in WoW is not happy, part 2

EDIT- Reference also here.

I archive a post written by Tobold on his blog that connects with something I wrote in the past and another recent post:

Exploiting WoW PvP

I did a number of Warsong Gulch runs yesterday, all of which I either quickly won 3:0, or quickly lost 0:3. So I began to wonder where the balanced fights were. I noticed that the fights I won where always with the same people, the Horde PvP experts. And the fights that I lost were always against the same people, the Alliance PvP experts. Would be fun to see them fighting each other, experts against experts, wouldn’t it?

No chance. Because then I finally realized how they were exploiting the system. On a busy evening there are several instances of Warsong Gulch running. So the experts sign up, and the moment they appear in the instance, they quickly click on the button which shows the names of the players of *both* sides. And if they are paired against the other side experts, the type /afk, which instantly boots them out of the instance, and then they sign up for the other battlefield.

If you think that PvP is a fight of Horde against Alliance, you are wrong. It is a competition of Horde against Horde, and Alliance against Alliance. To get to the highest rank in PvP, you need to make more points than the players on your *own* side. What points the other side makes is totally irrelevant to your progress. So chosing your enemy well, and only fighting disorganized pickup groups, is your quickest way to the top.

Now I want to offer my 2 cents to try to point out the actual design problem that is causing that mess.

The problem is similar to the critiques I wrote about the communal processes and goals. In WoW the PvP is faked because there aren’t persistent elements (call them “consequences”) beside the PvP rewards. The PvP rewards are all but communal and are filed in the category of the “bigger e-peen”. Again communal processes (and not so much, in this case, since you can just go afk in Alterac and still farm honor/reputation) to reach egoistical goals. A duo that just doesn’t work as I often tried to demonstrate in the past.

The fact is that the PvP in WoW doesn’t exist. The war doesn’t exist. It’s all faked in a sort of detached arcade mode that roleplays itself, taking place somewhere else in the form of a detached, instanced zone. The PvP isn’t consistent, despite the two factions are at war from the “lore” point of view, they aren’t in the game. They don’t fight over something. They don’t conquer nor control (at least in the BGs, on the PvP servers the situation was better before they introduced the honor points). So it’s obvious how the whole and only purpose of the PvP is just the personal gain. A personal gain that can easily be exploited since the “war” exists just as a false excuse. As a pretence.

Basically the problems Tobold noted are just the consequence of a system that is not consistent. It doesn’t simulate what matters and the obvious result is about the players working around the faked war to reach the actual REAL, concrete goal: the personal reward. Once again the players outsmart the designers and show them where their ideas are broken and pretentious.

They made obvious how the “pattern” the designers assumed (a conflict between the factions) isn’t the “pattern” that the game actually offers (get phat loot through the reward system and a self-competitive ladder). The players finally found the shorter path to reach the “carrot”, which definitely isn’t through the conflict but through the avoidance of it. Because the conflict, in this game, is only assumed and never actually delivered (again because there is no persistence and no true communal goals).

Since the game offers no real war, the players have learnt how to avoid it and be happy (reach the carrot=discover the true mechanic of the system).

In other games where the PvP works there has always been a persistent element. Just because the war needs to be concrete within the game-layer, or it becomes stupid and pretentious. Like WoW’s PvP.

As I wrote in other occasions there is absolutely *nothing* to save in WoW’s PvP system. Nothing.

Mist-Warsong:

(about PvP rewards)
Not only that, but they’re infact anti-communal in that advancement is exclusionary to others, even others in your own guild. If you want to get to rank 14 as a guild, you each have to take turns playing one character a week to make up the last yard. The only thing ‘communal’ about PvP in WoW is that it takes an entire commune to play one char around the clock to get rank 14.

That’s a good point.

I started the thread but I disagree with most of the comments here. WoW doesn’t need harsher death penalties because, even if they could make the PvP more meaningful, they just aren’t fun and only add frustration to the mix. We go from one extreme to the other and this brings nowhere.

Unfortinately the awful MMO development brought the players to expect the bare minimum, so when I say that the war needs to be more “meaningful” everyone thinks to the death penalty. Which is again a personal mechanic that doesn’t really make the “war” more interesting, just more frustrating.

When I write that the game needs “persistence” I mean the persistence of the *world*. A war is never fought to just massacrate people, that’s a consequence. A war is usually fought for the territory and conquest. This doesn’t happen in WoW because the persistence of the territory and of the objectives is *volatile*. In Alterac you often fight the same named respawning evey few minutes. Nothing has effects and you can always switch to another instance.

In DAoC, beside the Realm Points, people fight for territory and keeps. If you go “afk” or you log out you won’t find a brand new “clean” instance when you decide to go back. You cannot “reset” the RvR. You cannot flee from the battlefield and spawn another one if you don’t like it. This makes the war concrete. The guilds have a role in the game and can conquer and upgrade their keeps and towers, the defence needs to be organized and if you want a bad situation to change you have to work for that change with the resources you have available.

In WoW there’s no guild involvement. All the mechanics are solely focused on the single character and the persistence of the war is completely gone thanks to meaningless instances that spawn at will.

This is what makes the war faked. Noone is actually fighting for anything else than a power-up.

It’s then not surprising if then the players find efficient shortcuts like going afk in Alterac or jump in and out instances in Warsong. That’s what the game currently promotes.

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