Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Player Versus Me

When I think of game ideas, I totally ignore the PvP stuff, usually.

Well, in a way.

'Cause PvE is actually Player Versus Me, the Dungeonmaster, or at least Player Versus My Artificially Intelligent Dungeonmaster Simulation.

But Dundee's Emu was totally FFA PvP, actually.

But at the same time, it was a small group of buddies playing the thing.

And nowadays, with the technology we got like instancing, we could "shard" a game to the size of your guild, right?

And make it FFA PvP.

And just think about how doing that would change PvP.

It'd make it so that you didn't have any "strangers" to beat on that you didn't like.

Which would suck, right?

'Cause either you want to actually victimize some folks (which is okay as long as you don't mind being victimized yourself, that's the internally self-consistent logic there).

Or, on a more sporting level, maybe you just want other football teams that you can fight against, to see how well your guild would do against them, stuff like that.

But those are all very different things from the guy that wants to play a game as if he was playing a part in a movie, a guy that expects the game designer to entertain him like a good dungeonmaster would, helping him make buddies with the other players and providing the challenges and falling over and dieing at the appropriate points in the story and all that good stuff, y'know, there's a lot more than a couple arts to doing all that junk really well.

But there is some overlap, 'cause there's movies about football teams, and a football season or a PvP campaign can be a lot like an "adventure," over time, right?

And so can the whole thing where you wanna be a victimizer, that can be a lot like a movie about a bunch of bandits, or a serial killer, or a bunch of bank robbers, or a bunch of cops that hunt bank robbers, or something.

And any of those things might be a PvP game, or a PvE game.

And even the PvE games can piss people off if the Dungeonmaster is a real bastard, 'cause he's actually the player that you are playing against.

The key thing with PvP is that there ain't usually any good solo shit in 'em.

Your fun is pretty much dependent on the other players, unless something is totally out of whack, like it was when me and the Real Life Dwarf got nerfed three times in one day while playing those evil little Ranger Leprechaun guys in DAoC ahaha.


Our fun was TOTALLY dependent on our buddies being around in Shadowbane, right?

And then on top of that, it was dependent on our enemies being around, too.

'Cause all there was besides that was either hanging around the Tree and playing grab-ass with yer buds while you waited for folks to show up, or the horrible-ass PvE in that game, which was actually "the punishment" for losing in PvP, so who the hell wanted to do that shit in your free-time ahaha.

Where games that were designed to be good PvE games first and foremost don't usually have that same player dependency problem, where yer stuck doing a lot of nothing, 'cause there's usually something that's halfway-entertaining to do when yer buddies ain't around, some robot or slot machine to wrestle with or something.

The "fun" of PvE games has a tendency to be more player-independent, just by nature of it not really needing a second player for the extra P in PvP heh.

Of course, PvE games can totally goon themselves up with "forced grouping" and their "end-game raiding garbage" and all that too, so its not like that's an idiot-proof Rule or anything.

Not that I'm totally against the idea of encouraging folks to work together, but there's more subtle and entertaining and cinematic ways to kinda nudge people together instead of that stark-ass LFG shit where the bones are sticking out of the monster and everybody is an interchangeable cog in a big machine.

Anyways I'm all into having players matter and not leaving anybody behind and all that, but I know you need to have some shit folks can do on their own to get away from everybody, too, y'know?

Your fun can't be totally dependent on other players, 'cause there's no quality control for those bastards, you never know when they're gonna even be there.

And so you gotta have some kinda PvE stuff, to start with.

And if you're gonna make some kinda game where folks invest themselves into building sand castles and shit that they really care about and stuff, it might be a good idea not to let somebody else smash the shit out of 'em and make folks feel that you, the game dev guy, just let somebody erase their investment in your game, that you just wasted their time, that they might as well have not even bothered playing your game, or worse.

Y'know, 'cause you either want 'em to give a shit about their castles, or you don't, can't be both ways about that at the same time.

And they're not gonna fall for that mixed-message "we need victims, come bake bread and build a castle we can wreck!" stuff for long, now that there's victim-free gaming available heh.

"OMFG some poor suckers actually went through all the work of building another castle for us to wreck LOOOOL!!!"

That's actually exactly the kind of asswipe I am, we're gonna be standing here all day staring at each other if you think you are gonna get me to chop wood and mine ore for your stupid-ass castle heh.

I mean, I'll help you fight, 'cause that's fun, but you better be bringing in some NPCs or something to pick up all the trash and shit afterwards ahaha.

I can't be bothered with all that, I got me some Waterworld to watch, baby.

And anything that's super tricky for a Dungeonmaster to do well isn't the kinda thing you wanna just hand to some random dude.

My players wouldn't like it if I smashed their castle unless they trusted my appreciation of everything enough to know that I never do anything for no reason and so something really awesome must be coming down the pipe, right?

Y'know, there'd be a debt that I'd have to pay to the players as a Dungeonmaster for doing that kinda shit, and it better have some damn good interest on it ahaha.

Unless castles were easy to come by.

Its one way or the other.

That's all it really boils down to for me.

And I could say that I'm all for arenas and stuff, but I understand everybody ain't into that, and I can always get a better fix for the MMO kinda PvP by doing assault maps in UT or some shit anyways, 'cause the MMO PvP dudes are mostly a bunch of goddam newbs when it comes to doing that kinda awesome survival of the fittest stuff, I mean, maybe in another twenty years they'll be up to doing things as good as UT 2004 or something ahaha.

And if you do make arenas and all that garbage, and invest a lot of energy into PvP, then you end up losing the trust of the folks that aren't into that, and those are folks that need to trust you in order to feel like its safe to invest their time and energy into your world, right?

That's why I think the EQ-WoW style of PvP stuff is good enough for government work, really.

And then there's the deal where Devs tend to be PvP guys 'cause they've probably played a million games, and had to test the shit out of their own game, and putting a time investment into the game as a regular player is "fake" to them, 'cause they could easily summon everything they need with a GM account, and so all the magical dangling carrot crap is invisible to them, items and accomplishments and all that kinda junk don't have any value to them, and on top all that, they built the maps and all the PvE garbage, so it ain't like its gonna be all that entertaining to them with a surprise around every corner and stuff, y'know?

That'd be like a Dungeonmaster having to play an adventure he wrote or something, that'd suck.

So the PvP bits are a way for them to get some quick fun out of the thing.

But they gotta watch that about themselves, 'cause the more they're seen jacking around with that part of the game, to make it more fun for themselves, the more the folks who don't care about PvP, your "investors" (as opposed to the "its just a game" guys, yeh?), are gonna be going wtf, is this a PvP game now?

That's one of the reasons I'm all cool with Dundee's randomly generated everything type of stuff, 'cause it'd be just as fun for the developer as the players, I mean, he'd recognize some bits that he put in there and all that, but depending on how it was done, and how many people (including the players) were allowed to add pieces to the soup, over time, it could still surprise him.

The only thing that's tricky about that is the quality dealie where you gotta build the puzzle pieces really well instead of letting some robot generate 1% good stuff, 98% pointless cack, and 1% superbad frankenstein shit that makes everybody quit the game after killing two or three people ahaha.

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