"Arena gear", "Arena Characters"

Discussion in 'MMO Design and Virtual Worlds' started by Babe Bridou, Jul 26, 2007.

  1. Babe Bridou

    Babe Bridou Member


    As a follow-up to the podcast about the "time vs skill" controversy, I would like to suggest MMO designers an idea that might solve it, at least partially.

    I'll go straight to the point: "Gladiator" gear could be available for free to anyone who desires to fight in an arena, but they would not be able to use it outside of arenas unless they actually succeed in them, to keep the achievement factor alive. This could have both a role-playing justification (quartermasters provide nets, tridents and harnesses to the gladiators, but only survivors can walk away with them), and a gameplay justification (this makes the arena meta-game as balanced as the arena can be, while the reward favours gear discrepancies outside of it).

    What do you think about that kind of mechanics? Would it put the MMO genre at a risk from a business point of view? What would be the impact on the various types of customers?

    Thanks in advance for your comments.
  2. Rufus

    Rufus Member

    There's economic pressure on for-profit MMOs to create time sinks or grinds, so it's unlikely that they'll allow players to bypass any issues like that.
  3. Babe Bridou

    Babe Bridou Member

    I'm thinking about polishing them and making them as accessible as an online RTS, fighting or FPS game can be, and limiting the connections between them and the rest of the game - which have proven their potential in terms of longevity and business viability - and while it's possible this will allow people to reduce their playing time, I don't think this would hamper the income from monthly subscriptions. If it were to influence it, it would have already, possibly through illegal and free private "Arena" servers.

    Now that I think about it, has anyone heard of any yet?
  4. Ikaruga

    Ikaruga New Member

    That's kind of like using sawdust to make batter for Chicken McNuggets.

    I mean, all that these grinding tasks that get thrown into MMOs tell me is that the developers couldn't think of any creative way to make the game last longer... so they had to throw in some filler to force the player to lick the crap to get to the center of the tootsie.

    They may as well just charge the player 120 dollars as a startup fee... since it takes many payments of... what is essentially, the rental fee... before you could have possibly gotten to the point where you can compete with other players.

    Here's a poignant question.... why even bother to have "levels" or exp in the game? Aside from the above?
  5. Rufus

    Rufus Member

    Well, it's good to separate the people who have minimal experience a little, and leveling provides a pacing mechanism for the content. Honestly, I'm not a big fan of XP mechanics. Notions like 'difficulty level' make more sense to me.
  6. ymchang

    ymchang New Member

    It's about character development. In many of the MMOs I can think of, you start with a basic level 1 character. You level it, and in doing so, you not only get a standard power boost at every level, but you also get some kind of spendable point to customize. WoW has talent points. Ragnarok Online lets you determine which stats will go up at level up and has a parallel level system for earning skills.

    Getting equipment for your character falls along the same lines.

    Building your character from the ground up into what you want it to be is part of the "fun" of MMOs.

    As far as grinding and time sinks, some MMOs aren't nearly as bad as others. WoW isn't that bad, except for a few parts of the endgame. If you want to see real times sinks, check out one of the MMOs from a Korean developer like Ragnarok Online or Sword of the New World (aka Granado Espada).

    As far as the Arena Gear idea, it could work to a certain extent, although, I'm not the best person to comment, seeing as how I really don't PvP
  7. KT Samurai

    KT Samurai New Member

    I think the idea is sound, but only if the game in question is actually intended for player versus player (PvP) combat to begin with. In the case of World of WarCraft I believe the game is more centered on player versus environment (PvE), or at the very least that balancing PvE and PvP will always lead to imbalances between classes. PvE and PvP are two completely different things.

    To Blizzard's credit, they've showed signs of understanding this. There was a time when a devoted PvE character could enter a PvP battleground and dominate. Since the inclusion of the combat stat resilience, and this stat only being available on designated PvP gear, this is no longer the case. Devoted PvP players can now appropriately destroy devoted PvE players in PvP combat because the gear for each activity is tuned completely differently. The problem is some classes are clearly more suited for PvP than others.

    Standardizing arena gear would be one step toward balancing this issue, but unless the classes themselves become attuned for PvP combat then it would all be for nothing.
  8. Warskull

    Warskull Active Member

    There is a game that actually does what you are describing, Guild Wars. They allow you to create a max level character with max weapons and equipment. There is some unlocking required, but the amount of unlocking has been severely reduced due to the PvP players screaming at the developers for years. The PvP in the game is essentially bleeding to death at the moment and not worth getting into, however I played this game for a while and it give surprising insight into some of the PvP in games.

    While I am not deep into arena PvP I can clearly see a number of things easily. First off WoW PvP is weakly balanced (data shows druids absolutely dominate 2v2 and 3v3), not all classes have a fair shot at being useful and it is a pain in the butt to make a new character if you roll something that isn't that used in arenas. WoW PvP is inflexible and take a ton of time to get into. You can't just decide you want to try a new class and get some PvP action in later that day. Yet, WoW PvP is insanely successful despite all its shortcomings. Why is this?

    The highly competitive, level playing field is only for a small percentage of players. A lot of MMO players aren't in it for the thrill of a fair, competitive fight. They are in it for the reward and the status. Most MMOs involve investing a lot of time into them and create a status system that everyone can participate in. A lot of MMO players are in it for that next cookie. They want to get their next reward and they want to show off how awesome their character is in PvP.

    Creating fully geared arenas characters begins to create a problem catering to these players (who make up a vast majority of Blizzard's player base.) First, the reward and grind oriented players get pissed when their character which the spend months leveling and getting super cool gear for gets absolutely trounced by a player who rolled up an "arena" or "PvP" character a few minutes ago. They don't like losing to players who haven't grinded or spent the time. Second, how do you keep a strong reward system going. A lot of these players are motivated by getting that next piece of gear or that next level and they tend to be attached to their characters. They don't have the motivation to just PvP for competitions sake. The grind battlegrounds to get that next cool piece of equipment.

    The whole level system seems silly for players who see the competitive end game PvP as the game. However, the leveling and grind system is the game for many players. They aren't playing it to triumph over challenges or prove their mettle in combat, they are playing for that next reward (be it a piece of gear, a level, or a cool skill.) The little rewards along the way is the game for many players.

    The core problem is that players who grind PvE want to be better in PvP than PvPers. While some of them may never grind to that level, the dream of owning characters that aren't as good as their character keeps a lot of people going. The players who truly demand a balanced competitive game aren't as numerous in MMOs.
  9. PoisonDagger

    PoisonDagger Active Member

    How do we know that? No MMO like this even exists! Guild Wars was only ever truly balanced for a short time before the first expansion hit stores, plus it required grinding for skills.

    Guild Wars 2 is going to have instant access PvP with no grinding for anything whatsoever, and with that mindset, ArenaNet will probably do a good job balancing the game too. PvE is going to be like GW1, except you don't unlock PvP skills by playing it.
  10. Sirlin

    Sirlin Steward of the Realm Staff Member

    Yes, but will the unit-frames be any better looking than a flat-shaded rectangle that looks like it's placeholder for an alpha test? Will turning off click-and-move actually turn it off when I click on a vendor? sigh.
  11. PoisonDagger

    PoisonDagger Active Member

    My larger concern would be whether or not the game is designed around a reasonable team size, or even designed to be 1v1/2v2.

    I read awhile ago that they're going to fix the usability issues and make the controls more like WoW. So I guess we'll see.
  12. suiraclaw

    suiraclaw Member

    Since the topic shifted to "truly competitive games":

    Just make 2 different games from the start, one PvX (pve + 1vs1 + huge castle battles) and one PvP, who just happen to use the same graffics and mechanics.

    PS: I'm not talking about letting balance changes only take effect in the pvp part & pve only skills but rather about completely different spells/equipment.
  13. Rufus

    Rufus Member

    That's nice in theory, but usually not practical. 1 vs 1 is going to be timing intensive or turn-based but neither of those is really suitable for large scale battles with lots of people.
  14. suiraclaw

    suiraclaw Member

    Giving those 1vs1 and/or huge castle battle modes to the pve version is just to please the casual pve crowd that, like warskull stated correctly, wants to show of their equipment. Those modes aren't meant to be 100% balanced at all so I wouldn't care much about that.

    The real competitive balanced modes would be found in the pvp version.
  15. Mezorin

    Mezorin New Member

    Actually, one idea for the arena gear in say WOW is each set of level teirs (or 'leagues') would have its own set of gear relative to its level. In other words, the 10 to 19 bracket would have its own arena gear, the 20 to 39 would have its own, etc. Winning in those pvp brackets would allow you to keep the pvp gear you've been using outside of the arena, but there'd always be a new set of gear over the horizon until you're level capped. This way there's always that "gotta get more levels for more crap" incentive to reach the next level bracket, but you could also spend some time in the pvp leagues to gear up as an alternative to raiding.
  16. Sirlin

    Sirlin Steward of the Realm Staff Member

    I really wish I could make an MMO. Free speech protected, with easy ability to mute / ignore. Every ban of a player treated as a failure of my company, rather than a stat to brag about. Players have legal right to sell any virtual items they own. Balanced for 1v1 *AND* larger battles (yes I can do that). PvE people have what they want, PvP people have a character select screen rather than a 400 hour grind.

    It's a set of revolutionary concepts that will seem laughably obvious once the tides turn and this stuff becomes the norm someday.
  17. DredNicolson

    DredNicolson Well-Known Member

    AND a standalone, story-driven single-player mode so the oldschool, hardcore roleplayers like me can have what we would want? I suppose I can dream.
  18. Claytus

    Claytus Well-Known Member

    Isn't it pretty counter-intuitive to produce a game that makes a marvelous showcase for modern game design and it's benefit to players, but then still try to include all the outdated designs that caused problems in the first place?
  19. Missle Launch

    Missle Launch Member

    Separating PvE and PvP... what an elegant solution! But what combines the two games? Why not have them be standalone packages?
  20. Milskidasith

    Milskidasith Active Member

    Make it like guild wars, where PvP only characters are only in PvP and PvE characters can play in both, but PvE characters have to get all their skills using skill points from leveling up while PvP characters simply get all skills you've ever learned/unlocked with PvP points.

    Basically, PvP is a quick start character that can't leave PvP island, while PvE takes time to level up but can do everything.
  21. PoisonDagger

    PoisonDagger Active Member

    If I could make an MMO, I would combine them in a way that truly makes the game a virtual world.
  22. Sanctos

    Sanctos New Member

    I realize this is a very old quote, but Sirlin, bro, you have to do this. A.) You would create the most popular game the world has ever seen and be recognized as one of the greatest designers of our era, B.) You would become filthy rich, and 3.) I would finally have an MMO that I truly enjoyed. :D.

    We can all dream I guess.
  23. specs

    specs Well-Known Member

    I posted a similar idea on the WoW forums that was deleted after I was temp banned for something completely unrelated. I like the idea.

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