Why Open-world PVP needs to be regulated.

This is something which has been bothering me for a long time now. For the past few months I have been back playing SWTOR (The star wars MMO) and the open-world PVP system in the game drives me crazy. Essentially the only rules are you have to be in outside of designated safe areas (such as bases and towns) and you cant engage people of your own faction. Sounds simple enough and given a perfect world it should make the game overall more interesting, unfortunately if a system is open to abuse someone will abuse it.

The easiest way to voice my frustration with the system is to talk about how people abuse the system. There are areas at max level which are used by players to gain credits and do so called ‘Daily’ quests, these areas are contested and as such conflict can occur. Most of the time a kind of psuedo cease-fire exists which allows players to get on with these quests. This brings me to Vezz, Vezz is a player who goes to this area EVERYDAY and kill players. He will do this for hours in a day multiple days of the week, to make things worse he plays an incredibly slippery class and picks only fights he knows he can win. At this point there are 2 main arguments which justify what he does.

  • Players in this area should be of similar level and as such should be able to retaliate.

Naturally at any level there can and will be gear differences between all players, in SWTOR this difference is HUGE because the game has specialized PVP gear. People dont often pick fair fights, especially when you have so many options with so little risk. This is true for many open-world pvp games, recently I played Age of wushu and after I started playing some much better players killed me (I had been playing for at most 10 minutes).

Vezz is fully geared in top-tier PVP gear, he also only picks the weakest players only and can often take on groups because of his gear advantage. once he attracts attention from geared players he will stealth and move to another area.

  • Players agreed to this when they joined the server and as such cant complain.

I feel like noone agrees to be abused, you agree to the potential of conflict. When you fights and kill someone who had no chance of retaliate you aren’t far from bullying. Regardless of your rights within the game all you are often accomplishing is frustrating another human being for your enjoyment. Some players will go as far as to taunt the people they gank, or even following them and preventing them progressing forcing them to give up. To some extent it shocks me when I see this behaviour but in these games it is far too common, not only is it bad for the game but its bad for everyone involved. Bad behaviour is encouraged which could result in anti-social behaviour IRL, whilst the ganked players are left frustrated and angry.

Vezz can and will gank the same player multiple times, he will also often taunt in chat to frustrate them. In terms of in-game achievements there isn’t much to gain past a point of open-world killing and its fair to say he is well past that point which leads me to believe he does all this purely to frustrate others.

Vezz to me breaks the system and unfortunately he is not the only one, I could name a few on my server who this. A system open to abuse will be abused by people like this.

You may or may not agree with me at this point depending on your experiences of MMO gaming and open-world PVP. I have played a few games and I have seen the best and the worst of it, letting players do whatever they want creates an interesting social experiment but unfortunately in practise what players want to do is often dark and destructive.

With that in mind here are some idea I’ve had (or seen) which can make open-world PVP more fun:

Bolster – The easiest solution is to simply ensure that everyone is on a similar power. Give players a buff that makes them at least formidable enough to make an escape effort or in some cases outplay other players.

Level Capping – This is what most games do, dont simply allow everyone to fight everyone. Unfortunately gear still causes an issue. Players who intend to fight others will often out-gear players more concerned with progression.

Pacification – Create some-way for players to pacify others, almost like a free escape which would work in instances of un-provoked aggression. For example the ability could be a prolonged cc effect unbreakable but granting massive healing to the player effected.

Smoke Bomb! – Create an effective means of escape for the player allowing them to get away but preventing them making any aggressive moves. For example if a player attacks you could have 5 seconds to use the ability, after you are stealthed but unable to perform any aggressive actions for a while. Prevent the ability being abusable in various ways, for example make it unusable on a player who has attacked anyone within 10 minutes.

Notoriety – A player who misbehaves overtimes gains notoriety which in-turns grants other players larger rewards for shutting them down. The higher the notoriety the more attention they attract. In APB for example at max notoriety you are killable by everyone on both factions. This also creates potential for bounty hunters to take advantage of misbehaving players for rewards. Games dont reward players who react to open-world gankers enough.

Thats all for now, This was more of a mini-rant but one that has been on my mind for quite a while. I have argued this point on reddit before but often the only people willing to speak about it are the ones causing the issue. I firmly believe that promoting the abusive behaviour these players often display shouldn’t be acceptable. People talk about how shooters can inspire violence but often what happens is players are overly competitive and hence angry or toxic. If competition is not the aim you are left with nothing but dominance, a person who simply seeks to dominate others for the sole purpose of a small amount of fun is much worse than a competitive player.

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