Mano e Mano

Posted: June 26, 2007 by Kendricke in Everquest 2

I thoroughly disapprove of duels. If a man should challenge me, I would take him kindly and forgivingly by the hand and lead him to a quiet place and kill him.

-Mark Twain

I typically try not to get too involved in PVP discussions, because I don’t play much PVP in MMO’s these days.  I’ve got a couple characters on an off account on Nagafen and Vox in Everquest 2, and I’ve put in a good deal of time in World of Warcraft on my Rogue, but in general, I’ve come to realize that PVP (or at least MMO PVP) simply isn’t my bag. 

So, when Darren made a new discussion about the subject over at Common Sense Gamer, I respectfully bowed out of the conversation since I didn’t think I had much to add. 

Then I came across this gem hidden away in one of the comments

The REAL PvPers out there are the ones playing online FPS games like Battlefield, or RTS games like the Age of Empires series. The players start on a fairly level field, and its down to their skill as players to determine victory or defeat. MMO PvPers who rely on superior levels and gear to determine victory are jokes in comparison.

-Eric, via “Common Sense Gamer

This really struck a chord with me. 

I spend hours each week playing games like Age of Empires III, Company of Heroes, Dawn of War, and Pirates Online.  I’m constantly on the prowl for Deathmatches, Battlelines games, and Team play.  Since my brothers and I live a hundred miles apart, I absolutely see them more across these battlefields than I do across a dinner table.

“Eric” is dead right in his assessment regarding the differences between traditional open world PVP in most worlds and games built around match-ups (like Battlegrounds in World of Warcraft).  Everquest 2 had a real chance to jump the gun on this concept with their Arena feature which released with Desert of Flames back in early Fall of ’05.

Battlegrounds are fun.  Even people who normally hate traditional MMO PVP seem to love Battlegrounds.  I know I do.  Many of the people I’ve fought alongside or against also seem to feel the same way.

By way of contrast, Arenas never had the same excitement or replayability for me.  I never got into them in the same way I got into Battlegrounds.

So what do Battlegrounds accomplish that Arenas do not? 

Battlegrounds are complex.  Many are large, with well designed maps, and have multiple (and logical) chokepoints.  In addition, the gameplay is immersive.  The maps don’t feel like artificial environments, but truly feel like another zone from the game.  Generally, most battlegrounds are large.  Once the fighting starts, there’s a certain amount of distance between the teams to cover that gives a great deal of tactical options to members of both teams.  Compare this against Arenas, which give limited space, and few chokepoints.

I’d love to see changes to the Everquest 2 Arenas.  On most servers, the Arenas are essentially empty most of the time, with little to no activity even during prime hours…and little to no incentive to create activity.

Imagine the Arenas revisited in Everquest 2 to resemble World of Warcraft Battlegrounds a bit more.  How could this be done without losing the essense of the Shattered Lands?

I’d love to see changes to the Everquest 2 Arenas.  On most servers, the Arenas are essentially empty most of the time, with little to no activity even during prime hours…and little to no incentive to create activity.

Imagine the Arenas revisited in Everquest 2 to resemble World of Warcraft Battlegrounds a bit more.  How could this be done without losing the essense of the Shattered Lands?

The Environment:
When building a arena battlefield, you want an area small enough to encourage battle, but large enough to provide for a variety of tactics.  Provide logical chokepoints, ambush sites, and enough variation in terrain to provide some interesting challenges.  Change it up from a woodland glade with Kelethin style ramps and bridges to even some water maps, with underwater tunnels and caves (some with and some without air).  Imagine an entire Arena map filled with rising and falling lifts….

Observers:
Whether NPC or just PC, use the stands for something other than dead space.  Have them boo and cheer and call out for more. 

Incentives:
Provide meaningful and desired rewards for Arena participation and wins.  Post results of battles in-game, with win/lose records publically accessible to anyone who wanders up to an arena.  Provide different type of rewards to players to enable them to earn rewards (city merchants, etc.)

Regular Interaction:
Hold regular tournaments – even if it’s just an automated process.  Best of the best competitions and team leagues could really spice up the fun.

Cross-Server Functionality:
Use Instancing to provide for cross-server competition, even if it’s only during special fights or tournaments.

Gotta Catch ‘Em All:
I think it’s safe to say that the Arena pets system has largely failed.  There’s little to no support for the pets, as there were few offered in Kingdom of Sky and none that I’m aware of offered with Echoes of Faydwer. 

Rekindle interest by revamping the pets to level up also (think Pokemon).  There could even be a sort of “Monster Rancher” or Chocobo style based mini-game built into Everquest 2 specifically for players looking to raise and breed particular pets. 

Variations on a Theme:
Why stick to just deathmatch and capture the flag.  What about mounted Circus Maximus style death races (think MarioKart or Crash Bandicoot).  My Warhorse vs his Warg vs your Rhino…10 laps…anything goes.  One of my favorite player created games in old Everquest was Gnomeball (Take a gnome corpse in the Zek Arena + /consent all + two teams with /corpse macros…) and it wouldn’t be terribly difficult to offer up a polo style variation.  Even a take off on the old American Gladiators show, where two teams have to race through identical dungeon mazes (filled with traps and monsters) to get to the middle first. 

There’s little to no reason the Arenas should sit empty so often.  With a little imagination, and a bit of work, the Arenas could become a jewel in EQ2’s crown – something to show off to players of other MMO’s as a new way to view stodgy ole’ MMO’s. 

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Comments
  1. cyanbane says:

    What??!?! The original commenter needs to recheck BF 2 and BF2142. There are persistant advancements (weapons, ranks, etc) within those games also. It may not be your normal MMO “level grind” but gaining achievements that increase the ability to damage another player is pretty basic in MMO PvP AND the Battlefield series.

  2. My two cents: Screw pet additions. I just want a pokemon MMO. 😀

  3. Cuppycake says:

    I agree with you on this. I’ve always thought that EQ2’s arenas weren’t really, well, finished. It seems like there are much better ideas that are showing success (WoW, LotRO monster play, etc.) that are better implemented. I don’t ever see anyone talking about PvPing in EQ2. Personally, the only reason I participated in battlegrounds in WoW was because I ran out of things to do PvE-wise.

  4. kendricke says:

    Cyanbane,

    Even in an MMOFPS (we’ll use Planetside, since I’m most familiar there), there’s a certain level playing field right off the bat.

    Sure, you “grind” to advance ranks, specializations, open up training, and gain access to more weapons, rank, and abilities…but I can start up a BR1 grunt right now on any server for any faction and still find myself killing BR10’s with Command ranks within a few minutes.

  5. Xeavn says:

    Honestly I think the biggest thing that EQ2 does wrong with thier Arenas is that they don’t use your character. You use some sort of pet you picked up half an hour ago. Your not attached to it, you aren’t used to fighting with it, it doesn’t have equipment, and you haven’t been leveling it up for the past few months.

    Even if you solved the equipment, and leveling issues, I still don’t think it would become a popular choice. I can understand why they went that route, because PvP in EQ2 to me seems horribly balanced. It wasn’t designed with that in mind, it wasn’t released with that in mind, and doesn’t really seem like there is much to fight over in EQ2.

    In WoW on the other hand you can’t group with the Horde if you are Alliance, you can’t speak any of thier languages, you can’t send them tells, and if you happen to be on a PvP server chances are they have been fighting you the entire time as your leveling.

    Granted the combat is not always fair. Neither is life. You may get ganked on occasion, you might even get corpse camped. Blizzard has put in a number of things to help you as player avoid both of those situations.

    In battlegrounds if you lose, the first thing they blame is the equipment. Oh, they had better gear, that why we lost. Gear does help, and even at times gives a somewhat unfair advantage, but I have seen the undergeared team win. I have seen coordination and skill beat gear on a number of occasions.

    In an FPS this tends to be blamed on the lag. It comes down to that fact that very few poeple want to take personal responsibility for being beaten. They didn’t play well, they didn’t work together well, and they lost.

  6. Cyanbane says:

    @Kendrick

    So the advancement of those traits is faster so what? I still don’t understand what the difference in doing the same thing in BF2142 with a persistant character?. Fundamentally both games have that ability. Add AOE3 into the mix and it is the same thing with their card system. There is nothing different about advancing a persistent character to better yourself against other players who might not be as skilled. It does not matter if it is an persistent mmo character or a persistent character FPS or RTS. The persistence of a character that can advance to higher levels and still play lover level characters is the same regardless of genre.

    Please note I am talking about the original comment on CSG, not the arenas in EQ2 from your writeup.

  7. kendricke says:

    I can’t speak too much in regard to Battlefield as I never got into it or it’s incarnations too much.

    However, my point on the subject is pretty basic: I generally have a more even playing field right away against higher levelled characters in RTS/FPS games than I do in MMO’s, as a general rule.

    Tell me that most of your kills in EQ2 come from 1 on 1, evenly matched fights that start with both opponents at full life and neither of you involved in combat already. If so, tell me if that’s common with PVP in most MMO’s.

    I can load up Dawn of War right now, and I’m playing someone else based on their skill vs. mine, not whether or not they have 100 Achievements vs. my 52…and their Master spells vs. my Adepts. If I fired up Planetside right now, even the best player in the game can still find themselves killed by a brand new character who loaded up the right skills and pulled the right weapons…because it’s more player based than character based.

    Perhaps there’s a level of flat out PVP that appeals to the average PVP player that I’m not seeing, where player skill truly allows level 15’s to take out level 30’s…but I’m not seeing it when I fire up Nagafen or Vox. I do feel that I can’t just load up a level 5 in Darklight Woods and expect anything close to a reasonable chance at taking out a level 25.

    For me, I’ve always enjoyed Battlefields more than open PVP, for many of the reasons I’ve outlined. That’s just me, though.

  8. cyanbane says:

    Yes, thats because Dawn of War isn’t persistent is it? I played it awhile back, but haven’t since the expansion came out so I can’t remember. As for EQ2 pvp most kills for me personally come when it is many on one (I am part of the group doing the hunting) and we have to pick off singles, but that is more because of my class and skill in pvp (I am not all that great). I still don’t see any difference in any of the above original commenter’s example games (BF2/2142/AOEIII) player vs player than I do EQ2 minus the fact that eq2 is generally changing their rulesets more.

  9. Pixie Styx says:

    Personally I think that the level based / equipment based games that tout there pvp are not really doing the pvp crowd any justice in providing a more balanced pvp experience …. games that rely on skill or skill based systems, such as Darkfall or even Guildwars provide a more satisfying experince that is more on par with fps games such as Battlefield series

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