Thursday, September 24, 2009

Meta-PvP: A Strength of Victory System

I’ve been toying with the idea of a PvP MMO game that doesn’t involve players fighting one another directly.

The game would consist missions that players can undertake to combat other player factions or NPC factions. Missions could be initiated by players who run factions or NPCs. Each mission would involve a scenario or a set of scenarios where a player (and perhaps a few NPCs under his control to some extent) or group of players fights a group of NPCs of the opposing faction while trying to accomplish various objectives. There would be multiple scenario types including “deathmatch”, escort, protect the item, obtain the item, etc. Certain numbers of each type of scenario would need to be completed within a certain time-frame to complete a faction-wide mission—for example, to take a city/town/hamlet/farm. As the sides complete scenarios, they are awarded points based on their performance in the scenarios. The side that obtains the highest score accomplishes their goal, be it defending or attacking.

Nowhere in this system are players required to lose a battle they participate in. The system actually works perfectly fine if both sides win every single encounter in which players take part. As long as the NPC AIs are good—and they might not have to be much better than Darkfall NPC AI with some added behaviorlets—players can enjoy playing through challenging content and succeeding without being teabagged by 12-year-olds while accomplishing broader, world-changing objectives.

Can a system like this allow people to have their dynamic world cake and eat it too without it being a newb-repelling niche experience? Could such a system bring dynamic world, sandbox PvP to the masses?


Verilazic said...

I think so. Remember that PvE used to be pretty "niche" back when EQ1 was the big kid on the block. Or at least it was compared to WoW now. Why not do similar things to PvP. Here are two similar ideas to what you have up there:

And mine: At some point, have one faction give a player a quest to escort an npc at a certain time. Then have the other faction give a player a quest to assassinate the npc, giving the time that the npc will leave safety and need to be escorted.

Then give the questing player the option to share the quest with others, but if they do, the reward will be divided among those they share it with, either equally, or with a small bonus. The idea here being that it would create a penalty for inviting too many people to guarantee victory, but that would be balanced by the need to have enough people to win against the other side.

Foge said...

Interesting idea. What about something like an Warcraft III but where the players are heroes? You can choose to fight on the front lines, disrupt resources, take side quests, etc. The potential for PVP would exist everywhere, but would be greatest in the "hot spots".

@Verilazic I think that would be a cool quest. Another twist on the same theme might be a daily event, say a supply wagon heading to an outpost. If you defend the wagon and it reaches its destination, you get money and/or some other reward. The other side gets a reward if they ambush the wagon and prevent it from arriving. I think something like that would be even more interesting if you could combine it with a global effect, such as the cost of goods in the zone being higher if the wagon doesn't make it. Or something like that. That gives players more of an incentive than just money.

Verilazic said...

Absolutely. The trick would be balancing all the different incentives and disincentives with the intent of reaching a balance in the number of players that show up to represent each side in the ensuing battle.

But in general, it'd be great to have built in methods for the game to encourage and trigger spontaneous confrontations throughout the game world. Have various randomly generated, or randomly selected quests, but control and limit the number of recipients for each quest, and make sure that players on the other side show up too. Perhaps also base the rewards on how tough the fight was for each side.

Landwehr said...

There's an interesting facebook game called Nanostar Siege that takes this approach. The game has two parts. In one part, you attack other players castles and in the other part you design your own defensive strategy that the computer plays for you. So you never play directly against another player. But some of the dynamics of player vs player still remain because you are attacking a defense that another player designed. (Sadly, the game has a terribly unbalanced CCG system built on top of basic free content)

I think this is a neat way to keep the PvE content interesting and more PvP-ish (dynamic? ). At one extreme of PvE-ness, players are basically fighting for the high score. If you think about the way that guilds fight for server (or world) firsts, this is almost already a kind of PvE mediated competition.