Posted tagged ‘Ultima’

PvP IS PvE

October 16, 2010

pvp

Syncaine had a really great post earlier today. We don’t tend to agree with one another much at all but his post on PvP Hotspots and what creates a good PvP atmosphere actually agrees pretty closely with mine, though with a slightly different view of the whole process.

I can’t speak for Syncaine obviously, only for what I take from his blog. He brings up the fact that you can’t expect people to just PvP in an MMO. It’s hard to put a finger on the exact reason people will spend 100 hours or more PvPing just for fun in their favorite shooter, and yet if given the exact same offer in an MMO they refuse to take it. Maybe it’s got something to do with the greater skill involved in FPSs, or perhaps it’s the early knowledge that all you are getting is PvP.

The fact remains that players in MMOs need something to encourage them to PvP. A one time reward like a sword or piece of armor isn’t going to do the trick either. You need a reason for those people to fight and keep fighting. That, I believe, is where PvE comes in.

Several companies have come out with MMOs focused on PvP heavily. Wanting to make a great PvP game is a noble goal, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that if you want your PvP game to be a success then you need to focus heavily on PvE. Many won’t believe me at first, but I think that most of us older gamers, gamers raised on Ultima Online and Dark Age of Camelot, would.

In Ultima Online the biggest PvP hotspots were areas with rare gathering nodes, and dungeons. Both of these were very PvE oriented areas with PvE oriented people, invaded by Griefers who were looking to destroy the easy prey and get a ton of gathered materials very easily. This led to other PvPers, the ones that actually wanted to PvP and not just screw with helpless people. These new PvPers were attracted to the area not for the loot from the miners and dungeon delvers, but from the bodies of the Griefers. The Griefers got mad that their free loot was suddenly harder to get, and in their anger they began to fight back. But the easy marks didn’t stop coming, because that is where the goods were. The Griefers kept coming thanks to the supply of prey, and the PvPers kept coming for two reasons: 1) to have fun in PvP, and 2) to defend the easy marks who were bringing ores and rare weapons and magic components to town to trade, which resupplied both the Griefers AND the PvPers.

Jump forward to Dark Age of Camelot and one of the most popular PvP areas was Darkness Falls. Like Syncaine says: “the original and constant driver for that area had nothing to do with PvP, but rather the great and varied (lvl wise) PvE…”.

When games like Warhammer tried to make a great PvP game, while leaving their PvE content as a hollow shell and separating it from the PvP, they kicked themselves before they even launched. Darkfall (speaking from an outsiders perspective) seems to have been a victim of the same thing until it’s recent expansion. They tried to create PvP hotspots by making locations to conquer, and due to their location they were desired, but they didn’t draw the PvEers in the numbers that were necessary. Once they made a PvE hotspot that was wildly desired by everyone, the PvPers came on their own.

Of course Darkfall has the problem that it never attracted PvEers in very large numbers. The majority of Darkfall players are lovers of hardcore FFA PvP. The game practically has a sign on the box saying “if you don’t want to PvP stay away.” The attitude of it’s average player doesn’t help either. In truth it just might make their entire game more enjoyable if they encourage carebears to join and get hooked on the gameplay, then get hooked on the FFA aspect. Don’t tell them that though, the very notion of a carebear enjoying their game makes them spit blood.

Sandbox means Boring

April 15, 2010

400px-Sandbox

That looks boring as hell

If you have been following my blog for any length of time you know that I don’t dislike games because they are sandbox games, take Fallen Earth and Ultima Online as examples. In general I dislike sandbox games due to other factors such as boring combat (Darkfall, EVE) or horrid grinding being required (Darkfall, EVE). I think however that I have discovered another reason I don’t like most sandbox games, and it’s not the elitism that leaks out of those that play them like a festering wound (not today anyway), it’s the fact that most companies, and indeed most players, seem to think that sandbox means boring.

I constantly see blogs about how people just don’t understand this sandbox game or that one. About how, if you want to have fun, you need to find something and use your imagination in order to get any enjoyment out of it. They then berate people for saying that they got bored when that person obviously just wasn’t working at it.

At some point developers and player sat around and decided that in order for a game to be sandbox it needed to have mobs, pvp, a skill system and absolutely nothing to do unless you make it happen. If this is the case why not just open up MS Paint and make something happen. If you try hard enough you WILL have fun, you just have to put in time and effort.

I think something that needs to happen to really help the sandbox genre, at least in my opinion, is for the genre and it’s players to get over itself. Would it ruin Darkfall to have more quests? Surely players would cry foul and say that their favorite sandbox was ruined because they had to go from one place to another, even though NOTHING was changed except the addition of 1000’s more quests. Would it ruin Ultima Online to have a Dungeons and Dragons Online type of immersive, interactive dungeon? How about 30 of them sprinkled throughout the game?

I’m not saying you need to FORCE people to do certain quests or go to certain dungeons, but give me some story and some developer created things to do and perhaps I wouldn’t be sitting around looking for stuff to do 90% of the time I am playing. If there were as many quests in Darkfall as there are in World of Warcraft it wouldn’t take anything away from that game, other than giving people a little direction if they CHOOSE to take it.

Instead sandbox players and developers sit back and grin, thinking about how much better they are than your average MMO player because they have to make their own fun. Sounds more like a failure on the part of the developer to me with the fanbase continuing to support the product just because they are fans.

It’s a wonder that I like some sandbox games. What usually does it is getting lucky and finding that sweet spot, that perfect moment where you experience all the game can be and then spend the rest of your game time pining for it. Kinda like heroin I hear.

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An Ultima Online Experiment

March 27, 2010

UO

I played Ultima Online back before Trammel, continued playing after it came out and didn’t leave it until Final Fantasy XI came out, which i played until World of Warcraft came out. I went back when Ultima Online released it’s Kingdom Reborn expansion pack, which was a terrible mess. The updated “3D” style graphics caused the world to look more cluttered than it had before and the newbie starting quests were broken  and it was impossible to complete it.

Jump forward to today when I downloaded and installed the 14 day trial for Ultima Online. I got the new Stygian Abyss client and decided to see what kind of improvements they had brought to UO, if any. It turned out that they did a really great job, at least in the newbie starting quest area. There were many NPCs with quests once I got to New Haven, the starting town, and they ranged from getting my skills up (basically to teach you what you need to do) to crafting or escorting.

The biggest problem with the game right now isn’t even the graphics, which is what I thought it would be. It’s not even the UI which has received many great enhancements. It’s the sound. From the brutally loud and annoying walking noise that accompanies you everywhere you go (unless you turn off the walking noise completely…) or the seemingly four second music clip that seems to repeat over and over. Granted I’ve only played for a few minutes and I intend to give it a thorough playing before I give up on it. I have such fond memories of my time in Brittania that I am really tempted to resub, especially after the little I played today. But I’ll give it the full two weeks and see what’s what.

Makes me want to give Darkfall a try. If only they had a carebare server.