The Daily Grind: Does FFA PvP reflect badly on players?

    
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Today’s Daily Grind question comes from Luxxicon, a donor to our Kickstarter campaign. Luxxicon just wants to talk about open-world PvP. In fact, his question is superficially simple: “Does participating in open-world PvP make you a bad person or are you a good person who does bad things?”

Last year, psychologists found a strong correlation between displaying the “dark tetrad” of antisocial personality traits and admitting “sadistic glee” when it came to trolling other folks online. In other words, sadistic tendencies IRL did map to griefing tendencies on the internet and vice versa.

But I think that whether open PvP is griefing or not to begin with depends so much on the intent of the developers in an open-world PvP game. There’s a big difference between players who go into a game like PlanetSide 2 knowing that the game is designed entirely around PvP and expecting warfare to dominate gameplay and players who go into a game like ArcheAge knowing that the game is intended to be a well-rounded, multi-activity sandbox but insisting on turning it into a gankfest anyway. And even then, a game like ArcheAge will usually inspire vigilantes who certainly do participate in PvP but do so with a specific purpose to punish and eradicate griefers, which is another mentality of FFA PvP entirely.

And then there are people who play Rogues. You know who you are.

What do you think?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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Cyroselle
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Cyroselle

Denngar Tridus But what you cited in DF is PVP with actual consequence beyond a simple death penalty. Most FFA PVP games, or games with FFA PVP as a feature don’t have any real consequences involved with murdering your fellow player’s avatar, and when they do, it’s the sort of consequence that lends more to roving deathsquads than anything else, like having a point system whereby point accrual = better PVP armor and weapons that allow even greater facerolling.
What needs to happen is there needs to be something greater to lose on a basis where it doesn’t matter whether you murder in groups or not. Something like you stated with Darkfall, like  potential material or property loss.
The full-loot and crafter-oriented economy is what makes this work so well in Darkfall though. I wonder what other more conventional games could do? I really think this is an overall gameworld development issue. I think that first the groundwork needs to be laid out on this as the game is being developed, rather than using a shoddy honor or point system.

Cyroselle
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Cyroselle

Denice J Cook Maybe I’m an aspiring Father. ;P Or just that I like to garden, but I really want to take care of the servers I play on. :)

Cyroselle
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Cyroselle

Denngar rottenrotny That’s actually a really good point about Tauren Mill, I totally forgot the level difference between the quests for each faction despite their geographical proximity. It really made TM into a focal point before the game got so instanced, multi-world and teleporty.

Cyroselle
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Cyroselle

I often play a rogue type, on the odd occurrences that I’m not already playing an archer or mage (warriors are my least played archetype), but I don’t like to backstab or stunlock. I don’t actually enjoy cakewalk combat, or taking advantage of others, it doesn’t make me feel good. I just don’t like shitting on other people’s game sessions.
I do however enjoy open combat where I’m facing the person and can win through skill, or anti-gank ‘policing’, like sailing the open waters in games like ArcheAge with a small well-equipped crew breaking blockades and acting as hired muscle to protect fishing envoys.
…I guess one could say that I’m a ‘social PVPer’.

Morreion
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Morreion

I think FFA PvP reflects more badly upon devs, who always seem to see it as a Holy Grail despite it almost never working out and crashing their game in short order.

Luxxicon
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Luxxicon

So I just get back into town from vacation and found out MassivelyOP put up my question… cool!  Thanks guys!  I also want to thank all the people that responded… even the ones who didn’t like the question.  I hope at least the conversation was enjoyable.

In regards to the question, from my play time I have seen many examples from both sides of the argument.  I’ve had people who actively and selectively targeted weaker players (for their own reasons) to having a 3 v 1 where the 1 mopped the floor with all 3 of us, rezzed us and thanked us for the fight.  I personally found myself being on both sides as well.  I have gone from a “drive-by” stealth ganking of a poor Gnome near Tauren Mill to protecting and equipping (at great cost) newbies in DarkFall.

I’m not sure what that says about me exactly, except that I am very happy MassivelyOP is here for me to share it  

Nyphur
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Nyphur

jefreahard Nyphur Those are some really good points, I agree. I’ll concede that my version of the perfect sandbox MMO needs to have PvP as its foundation and that this may be a bias coming from my years of playing EVE. It’s also true that EVE is missing a lot of the social and creative tools that a well-rounded sandbox should have. It’s been left to players to fill those gaps with third-party tools and communities, which are inherently limited in what they can do. It’d be amazing to get player-generated missions, in-station storefronts, and better world-building tools that aren’t necessarily focused on territorial warfare.

In the context of this discussion about sandboxes with FFA PvP, though, I think it’s definitely true to say that in those games a PvP switch would be unsuitable. In those particular games, cat-and-mouse gameplay and territorial warmongering are the core of the game and giving players an opt-out without a significant associated cost would ruin the game. For games that are intending to be hardcore PvP sandboxes (perhaps at the expense of the social and creative sandbox gameplay), I think the only form of PvP invulnerability should be in designated safe areas with limited content. For everything beyond the PvP gating mechanism, a sliding scale of PvP exposure tied into a risk-vs-reward system is ideal.
But again, this is for games that want to be hardcore PvP sandboxes like EVE Online or Crowfall. It’s true that there’s a whole continuum of social and creative sandbox gameplay that this is ignoring.

jefreahard
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jefreahard

Nyphur jefreahard “but there’s no doubt that EVE Online or the upcoming Crowfall have a lot more sandbox features and fewer themepark features.”

Could not disagree more. 

More PvP does not equal more sandbox. The reason I can never stay with EVE for more than a month or two is because it completely lacks numerous sandbox features that SWG either had at the beginning or implemented over the course of its run.

Real basic stuff, too, like player-run shops, social classes/professions, player generated missions, the storyteller system which in effect allowed players to be GMs and spawn all manner of game assets for participating players to interact with, etc.

EVE is a great meta/PvP sandbox, but it fails spectacularly at being a virtual world when measured against SWG. It simply doesn’t have as many diverse gameplay options.

Crowfall I can’t even include in this discussion with a straight face given how it’s going to be constantly resetting its worlds, to say nothing of the fact that to my knowledge they’ve barely discussed crafting, socialization systems, or much of anything beyond combat.

It sounds like your ideal sandbox is predicated upon cat and mouse PvP, whereas mine is not. SWG, Wurm, A Tale in the Desert, and several other successful sandbox MMOs have made PvP optional (and in the case of the last one, removed it entirely). That doesn’t make them less of a sandbox than EVE. Less of a gankbox maybe, but the cat-and-mouse stuff is not required in a sandbox virtual world, it’s simply one of many possible gameplay options in the good ones.

Nyphur
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Nyphur

jefreahard Nyphur Every MMO exists somewhere on the sandbox continuum just by virtue of letting people play together, but in this instance I’m talking about PvP-based sandbox worlds that are on the extreme end of that scale. SWG was obviously a sandbox style game, but there’s no doubt that EVE Online or the upcoming Crowfall have a lot more sandbox features and fewer themepark features.
All I’m saying is that if developers want their game to be seen as a hardcore sandiest-of-the-sandboxes MMO, a simple opt-in PvP switch is unacceptable. It’s mechanically equivalent to having a separate PvE only server, having the effect of robbing the cats of 90% of their mice and the mice of their thrilling chase.

Though the mechanic you just described with going out on terminal missions and being flagged for PvP is exactly the kind of thing I was referring to as content or gameplay that’s gated behind the option to subject yourself to PvP. That’s the ideal setup for a sandbox and in my opinion the only way it should be done. I’d rather more rewards be gated behind PvP risk than fewer, but every MMO that’s used this strategy has struck its own balance there.

jefreahard
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jefreahard

Nyphur Er, so you’re saying that SWG wasn’t a sandbox-style virtual world? I think you’ll get a lot of disagreement on that one.

The galactic civil war flagging system did allow for cat and mouse. I as a Rebellion-aligned carebear was incentivized to go out and take terminal missions to kill NPC stormtroopers. When I did, I was flagged attackable to Imperial players, who can and did hunt for mission runners. The flag wore off after a few minutes of not attacking an opposite-faction NPC or player, and the rewards for running missions were GCW points that could be spent on badass mounts, otherwise unobtainable weapons/armor, housing decorations, etc.