DDOGamer Series: Saving PvP
Part One: We Need to Save PvP
Part Two: A Comprehensive Look at the Current PvP System
Part Three: How Will We Know When PvP is Fixed?
Part Four: Balance the PvP Contest, Not the Game
Part Five: Understanding PvP Hate
Part Six: PvP Dreams: 30+ Ideas For Saving PvP
A Comprehensive Look at the Current PvP System
While there are lots of ways to design improvements to a system, one commonly accepted method is to employ “as is/to be” modeling. Start by cataloging what you have now, and then describe what your system will be like when it is complete. Don’t bother your brain with worrying about how you’ll get there (or at least not yet) but instead focus on the end goal.
Once you have the starting and ending pictures in detail, one can being planning incremental changes to the “As Is” system that will eventually result in the “To Be” system.
With that in mind, today’s topic is an attempt to catalog the DDO PvP system as of Update 15.
Player-versus-player (PvP) is played in the same way that characters oppose monsters and NPCs during quests. Melee and missile attacks work the same way as they do while questing. Most spells work the same too, but there are exceptions.
- Persistent effect damage spells such as Acid Cloud and Firewall do not function at all in PvP zones
- Persistent effect crowd control spells like Web or Otto’s Dancing Ball do not work either
- Debuff spells such as Flesh To Stone work but have a limited duration*
- Invisibility can be cast but has no useful effect; the recipient can still be seen
- Instant kill and damage spells, including damage-over-time spells, work fine
* I did not test to ensure Flesh to Stone still works in PvP. There was a time when it was possible to grief an opponent by de-leveling him, cursing him, and then turning him to stone where he would be stuck until he logged out. Changes were made to prevent this but I don’t recall exactly what was changed.
Feats and spell-like-abilities tend to be changed for PvP in the same way as the spells they approximate. For instance the Sneak feat works like the Invisibility spell. You can activate it but everyone can still see you.
PvP combat today is centered around four zones, all in Eberron (there is no PvP in Faerun), and all of which are taverns. Each of the taverns features an open brawling area but also includes an NPC that you can use to enter more specialized PvP contests; either Capture the Flag or Death Match.
- Hammersmith Inn: located in House Deneith, this is the largest brawling pit in the game, consisting of nine rooms arranged in a 3×3 square
- Open Palm Inn: located in House Jorasco, this brawling pit is really just one room with a catwalk and (strangely) two pools of water, one to either side of the fighting room
- Phoenix Tavern: located in the Stormreach Marketplace, this brawling pit is also just one biggish room, but it includes a functioning bar replete with bartending NPC
- Wayward Lobster: located in the Stormreach Harbor, this is the most popular brawling pit, with three tightly-compacted levels that allow for limited chase and ambush possibilities
Utilizing a brawling pit is easy; simply enter and start attacking. Everyone is in the same instance, and there is no way to limit newcomers; in other words, there is no way to fight with just your guild or only with others near your level.
As of Update 15, there are four specialized PvP arenas:
The Devil Pit is a trap-and-lava-filled Death Match arena similar to the first part of Tower of Despair
The Menechtarun Desert is a multi-level Capture the Flag arena that does not have a lot of places to hide but is extensive in size.
The Quickfoot Arena, another Capture the Flag area, is not as large as Menechtarun but has a lot more nooks and crannies.
The Stash is a multi-level Deathmatch arena that isn’t as danger-filled as the Devil Pit.
Unlike questing, there is no real LFM system for PvP. One could put up an LFM advert for a PvP group, and in fact people do, but the two systems do not tie together the way that your quest log ties into your LFM posts.
The brawling pits are easy, just show up and hope others will be there. I expect variation by server, but on Sarlona and Cannith there is almost always PvP ongoing in the Wayward Lobster, but rarely in any of the other pits.
The arenas are another matter. By design, prospective PvP arena players are supposed to either queue for PvP opportunities using a specialized queuing system or find opponents themselves by physically clicking on them and issuing a challenge.
There is an NPC named Jackson Laws who is stationed just outside of each of the four brawling pits. Yes, he gets around.
Clicking him allows you to ask to be queued up for a PvP arena; you select which arena(s) you want, and the game will match you up with other queued opponents, You cannot leave the tavern while queued, but are otherwise free to wander about while waiting for your group to form.
The downside is that I have never actually succeeded at the matching process; there are never any other groups in the queue. Sarlona and Cannith are both lower-population servers, perhaps PvP players on Khyber do not have this problem.
On the plus side, you don’t have to wait, you can go find your own opponent and issue a challenge to her and her entire party.
Once the challenge is issued, a dialog appears that allows you to specify some rules for your challenge; what arena, what type of PvP, and how long the match will last.
It is not automatic; the other player has to accept on behalf of her party. The other player can also change the settings in the dialog, and if so, the match cannot begin until both sides agree with the changes. Once everyone accepts, all involved are whisked away to the arena of choice and PvP ensues.
This is the most reliable way to duel a friend and be sure that no one will interfere with your fun.
Assuming that you consider PvP to be fun. Not everyone does. We’ll start addressing that tomorrow.
🙂 😀 🙂