Sunday, August 14, 2011

Some Thoughts on World PvP

WoWInsider posted an article on world PvP. MMO Melting Pot posted an editorial decrying that post, calling it "a guide to griefing". I meant to comment on this kerfuffle at the time, but got distracted. Jinxed Thoughts posted some thoughts and reminded me about the issue.

For reference, I play on a PvP server, though I'm really a PvE player at heart. But my guild prefers PvP servers, so that's where I am.

In my experience, there are two "mindsets" when it comes to player-against-player combat. One mindset is that of chivalrous combat:

The orc warrior steps into the clearing, and sees the human knight. The knight draws his sword and salutes the orc warily. The orc unlimbers her axe and grunts, acknowledging her enemy's bravery. A charge, and there is blood in the snow. A single tear rolls down the face of the victor.

This mindset is old, invoking Arthurian legends, and codes of single combat and dueling. Combat here is consensual for both parties, and they are driven to it by their honor.

The second mindset is that of total war. Here victory means everything, and victory is the goal. Ambush, poisoned knives, the destruction of supply lines, outnumbering your opponents. All of these are acceptable practices. There is no honorable combat, only death and victory. Under this mindset, the entire idea of consensual combat does not even apply.

In my experience, the players who tend towards the first mindset usually prefer PvE servers, while players who tend towards the second mindset prefer PvP servers. But then the chivalrous mindset people see what happens under total war mindset and object to those tactics. And the other side doesn't see why they are objecting. In essence, they are playing different games, and talking past each other.

The thing is that world PvP is not consensual on a PvP server. Or rather, the act of existing is implicit consent.

If you cannot handle that, or you think that is dishonorable or griefing, then you should not roll on a PvP server. It will just lead to frustration. Stay on a PvE server and formally flag when attacking the enemy or do battlegrounds. The act of flagging counts as giving consent on a PvE server, but there is no equivalent action on a PvP server.

For PvP though, the entire mindset is different, and you just have to accept that PvP servers play by "total war" rules. You have to keep your guard up, be alert. It is a tiring playstyle sometimes. (Also, I miss bubble-hearth.)

So why play on a PvP server? Because you get random stories that never happen on a PvE server. The other night I got jumped by a Horde rogue and shaman healer. They killed me pretty quickly. When I got back to my body, the rogue had attacked a druid. But that druid had a friend who the Horde hadn't seen. So I ressed, and jumped into the fight. We killed the shaman, and the rogue vanished and that was the end of the fight.

A short vignette that interrupted my questing, true. But it is something that doesn't really happen on PvE servers.

Finally, from a fairness perspective, the Molten Front is the best place to engage in world PvP. All parties are guaranteed to be level 85. As well, there are usually many people questing, so you can call for help from others of your own faction in the area.

11 comments:

Carson 63000 said...

I read that MMO Melting Pot piece, and disagreed with it (and said as much in the comments).

But what really got me steamed was one of the commenters - a Melting Pot writer, I might add - who said they were on a PvP server, didn't like it, and:

before you suggest “transfer server then” – think twice. Why should I bow down to someone else’s ruleset and have to use my (real) money to move away from it?

I was actually rendered speechless by the chutzpah of it. That someone would say "why should I bow down to someone else’s ruleset?" as an argument as to why other people should bow down to her ruleset and refrain from world PvP on a PvP server. That is right up there with killing your parents and pleading for mercy because you're an orphan.

Azuriel said...

The draw to me originally rolling on PvP servers was the story-making aspect of it, as you mentioned. Some of my fondest interactions came about when I ran across a Horde player out in the world, both of us pausing in that time-slowing moment as potential fight outcomes spiral in our minds like a movie montage... and then I do /wave, and they return with /wave.

That said, those moments are impactful precisely because every other Horde you ran into was an asshole; some graduating into Doctorate levels of Assholery where you recognize and attempt to kill them on sight. Doing a /wave to the opposite faction on a PvE server is like waving to your coworker, and about as noteworthy.

The problem I do have under your "total war" model is that no amount of ganking has any measurable in-game impact. Obviously such in-game impact is impossible given how imbalanced Blizzard allows servers to get, but it really does devolve the entire exercise to psychological harassment.

It can be argued that players signed that waiver when they rolled on PvP servers to begin with, but at some point isn't there a counter-argument that what players get on PvP servers isn't what they paid for, as it were? Indeed, the design direction of the game has shifted over the years to where doing 20+ dailies in highly contested spots is the norm instead of the exception. There are only so many instances of the equivalent of 3v10 WSG matches you can do before the whole PvP realm experience devolves into "randomly die every 1.5 hours questing."

Elladrion said...

I loved pvp servers a lot more before flying mounts and instant travel to dungeons made random pvp fights so rare that is was pointless to wear your pvp gear around. And then once in a blue moon you do get jumped and destroyed becuase you don't have your pvp gear on :/ You touched on a point that I loved most about pvp servers, the constant sense of danger. You call it 'tiring" and it can be, but that keeps the game interesting.

Questing, you almost never die. Quests are rarely challenging or hard, just a process, something you have to do to get form A to B. Kill 10 wolves. Bring me 8 bear spleens. Go grab me 10 boxes of supplies. It's drull.

But a pvp server? You could be doing your dull, monotonous quest grinding when BAM! You get attacked! Sure, it sucks to be ganked by a bored max level character, no question. You learn to deal with it, I very rarely get upset about getting ganked anymore.

But occasionally, something fantastic happens. A fair fight. Even better, a slightly unfair fight! You're already fighting a mob and get attacked. Your heart starts pounding, Adrenaline starts flowing, you switch into a differant mindset. You start pushing buttons you never bother with normally becuase you don't have to. You start making quick, vital decisions about which ombs or player need to be dealt with the most urgently. you use stuns and roots and CDs to try and get back to an equal footing. Often you still die, but you put up a good fight.

And sometimes you win. Man oh man, there is NO better feeling in game than mindlessly doing your thing and someone decides now would be a perfect time to jump in the fray and you come out on top. Nothing, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING pve compares to matching wits and skill on the fly with another living, breathing, thinking person.

It's too bad people level so fast and spend so much time in dungeons, you never see the other side anymore.

Elladrion said...

Sorry for the double post, especially after that textwall, but I just actually read the wowinsider article, and it makes me physically sick, I've got that sinknig sensation in my gut you get when you hear about some disaster on the news.

There's a differance between ganking and griefing. There's a differance between happening across an enemy player and sniping them at an inopportune (for them) moment and corpse camping them. I figured MMO melting pot was using hyperbole, but it's very literally an unabashed guide to griefing, on one of the premier warcraft blogs out there, and that makes me more upset than I ever wanted to feel about a "game"

Anonymous said...

The real pain of the Molten Front is that is has the sanctuary area. Griefers such as WoW Insider author use it to avoid the rightful retribution :) of people the've griefed.
When you're the one-shot "mage under 50% with mob on them", you surely would want to show the bastard what you've got. But no, of course s/he sits in the sanctuary and wastes your time...

Redbeard said...

The entire point of World PvP is PvP itself. If you're not interested in PvP, you should never roll on a PvP server. (Or at least roll on one where your faction far outweighs the other.) You can't control what others think of PvP, so if you are on a PvP server, you have to assume the worst.

In a PvE world, you can pretend that up until the Wrathgate the Horde and Alliance were locked in a cold war that occasionally flared hot. Once the Wrathgate happened, however, PvP is a more accurate representation of the current environment in Azeroth.

You can argue that in terms of gameplay, Thrall was more the PvE Horde leader, while Garrosh is the PvP Horde leader. (And Sylvanas is the total war true believer.)

The Alliance leadership doesn't really have a comparison in terms of opposing viewpoints on how to make war (particularly since Velen took a gigantic pass on this expac). Their viewpoints center on "the only good orc is a dead orc", but their approach to the war is pretty much a passive/aggressive version of "honor": it makes for a good sound bite, until you inspect it closely.

In the end, you could argue that PvE is the way players may want Azeroth to be, but PvP is the way Azeroth is.

Anonymous said...

I play a rogue and knew most of these tactics. I all boils down to the old saying of never ever starting a fight if you don't think you can finish it in your favour (why do you think bad people gang up to rob?).

WoW PvP is the same thing.

What was done is exposing all the tactics. Sure more people will apply them but most importantly every non-rogues now also know these tactics. What he did was weakening the power rogues had by spreading the knowledge.

Now that you know, you will be more difficult to kill.

Hana said...

My second druid has always been on a PvP server from level 1 to 85. It takes a certain mindset to deal with it, and you hae to be okay with ganking. Once I "got over myself" about how unfair it was to be ganked, I had a lot more fun.

Now I'm prepared whenever I go questing outside of the city. I tell myself if I'm going to be upset over being ganked I'll go back to my PvE server. I mostly stick to gentlemanly combat in that I don't attack people more than a level (maybe two) under me unless they are actively engaging in PvP. Do I attack sometimes? Yes. Do I get ganked in return sometimes? Yes.

But it's all in good fun. If it's not, then a PvP server isn't the place to be.

lxsli said...

Wittgenstein FTW!

Voltis said...

I would just like to quote this:

'But occasionally, something fantastic happens. A fair fight. Even better, a slightly unfair fight! You're already fighting a mob and get attacked. Your heart starts pounding, Adrenaline starts flowing, you switch into a differant mindset. You start pushing buttons you never bother with normally becuase you don't have to. You start making quick, vital decisions about which ombs or player need to be dealt with the most urgently. you use stuns and roots and CDs to try and get back to an equal footing. Often you still die, but you put up a good fight.

And sometimes you win. Man oh man, there is NO better feeling in game than mindlessly doing your thing and someone decides now would be a perfect time to jump in the fray and you come out on top. Nothing, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING pve compares to matching wits and skill on the fly with another living, breathing, thinking person.'

This is the ultimate True PvP experience. I'm sure not everyone experiences this 'rush' in these ocasions but this guys described something that always happened to me in world pvp. That's why i'll always miss vanilla Southshore/Hillsbrad or BRD/UBRS/LBRS entrances. Sadly, with flying mounts and insta-port theres almost no room for this kind of thing to happen anymore.

puppybrother said...

I do have to say, I enjoyed Wintergrasp because of the occasional world PVP found there in between battles. I greatly enjoyed beating the bajeezus out of claim-jumping Hordies.

But doing that all the time, when it's not fair at all, would be annoying as hell.