Sep 212012

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

How Will We Know When PvP is Fixed?

Prime time at the Lobster
Prime Time at the Lobster

What is it about Player-versus-Player (PvP) in DDO that brings out so much emotion?

In the two days that this series has been ongoing, there have been 59 comments posted on, or on the forums, on myDDO, or on twitter. 59! A quick tally shows 26 that are just flat-out against any attempt to improve PvP – and many object to the very idea of discussing it. 20 respondants presented ideas or otherwise contributed to the conversation. Thirteen other comments were interesting or witty but did not lean pro or con (or at least did not as far as I can ascertain).

Nonetheless, DDOGamer slogs on.

Today’s topic is an attempt to lay down the basic requirements of a successful DDO-based PvP system. What attributes would a good DDO PvP system have? What metrics could be checked to quantify success?

But first, three “anti-requirements”; attributes that cannot apply to a new PvP system.


  • A new system cannot require DDO Store purchases
  • A new system cannot include any rewards that provide advantage in the PvE game
  • A new system cannot impose on the rest of the game in any way

In other words, no global class balancing. No spell changes. No enhancement refits. Except within the context of PvP.

With these provisos in mind, let’s look at the list of requirements for a new PVP system:


  • It would be fully automated

Anyone remember Merlasks’ (now Tolero’s) Whale & Minnow games (Sharks & Minnows? I forget)? Game Master-managed PvP is the most fun PvP of all but is not sustainable.

  • It would be constructed using techniques that tend towards a low-maintenance codebase

This is a positive attribtue of all systems, but is particularly relevant in a PvP system where the content is expected to remain static over time rather than being constantly updated as is PvE content.

  • It would be fully integrated into the game and the game experience

This implies that players can enjoin PvP anywhere, at any point while playing. Everyone knows it exists. Everyone has a reason to play if they are so inclined.

  • It would utilize other main systems when possible rather than existing separately

This specifically talks to the LFM UI but applies to other areas as well; the bigger point is to use mainstream systems and artifacts always and avoid crafting custom PvP-only subsystems. But in regards to the LFM UI, reusing it just makes sense; one should be able to LFM for PvPers just like PvEers, and pick and choose from those who apply. Those applying should see information about the advertised PvP session.

  • It would be fully isolated from those players who choose not to participate

No one can be forced to participate. No more leaking insults into general Harbor chat.

  • It would have built-in variety to substitute for the lack of continuous new content

Variety means that there are multiple types of PvP but also describes the experience within each type. For instance, randomization in playfield or obstacles.

  • It would encourage replayability and provide rewards

There must be a reason to want to come back tomorrow and fight again.

  • It would allow participants to visibly display their prowess

Special titles? Vanity items or armor kits? It should be possible to see a champion PvP player anywhere in the game and know immediately that this is a champion PvP player.

  • It would allow characters and players to progress, visibly, according to some easily-grasped numeric scale

Experience points and leveling are addictive. I am leaving the world of requirements here and dabbling into problem solving but … notoriety points? Swiss tournament-style rankings? Something that gives the player an achievable target to shoot for and a measurable way to gauge progress towards that target.

  • It would allow any character to participate regardless of class or level

My second-level fighter should be able to take on a 25th-level cleric and have a chance. Maybe not an equal chance (and assuredly, not a perfectly balanced equal chance) but a chance nonetheless.

  • It would allow the players to build their own competitive systems and challenges on top of the PvP system

People are constantly trying to do this with the existing system (Tuffman Challenges, others) but there is no structure to support tournaments or events. There should be. Give us a way to set brackets or ladders or single-elimination knock-outs or … well, you get the idea. Give us the tools and we will use them to build something fun.

  • It would encourage use of the DDO Store

After all, that is the whole point.


Success metrics would include the number of people playing, but I imagine the single most useful metric would be the amount of Turbine Points spent on PvP-only items and capabilities.

It would be nice if the new system was able to dial back on some of the PvP hate too.

🙂 😀 🙂

  4 Responses to “How Will We Know When PvP is Fixed?”

Comments (4)
  1. I’ve found this series, and the conversation it’s generated, to be quite interesting! Thanks for writing it!

  2. Woohoo! I’m a “neutral” comment contributor!

  3. The PvP hate cannot be dialed back by anything the DDO Devs do.

    PvP hate has a history that predates DDO History. It goes back to the Dreadlords of Ultima Online. It goes back to Fansy the Famous Bard from EQ and the people who whined so hard that they changed the rules because of him.

    PVP is a polarizing element in MMO’s, and that’s not going to change any time soon. Some people really, really want it, and others really really don’t want it anywhere near them. In fact, many people make the prevalence of PVP a deciding factor in whether they start (or continue) playing an MMO.

    DDO has historically been a low-PvP server, and its’ reputation and existing customer base reflect this fact. Any PvP should be careful not to alienate existing customers in the vain hope of attracting new ones. Your points are a good start on this, but I’ll paraphrase and adda few of my own:

    (1) PVP should have nothing to do with game balance, and should be completely unrelated to any in-game advancement.

    (2) PVP should be completely unable to impact players who do not seek it out (i.e. no getting ganked in the Harbor by a level 25 on your way to the Waterworks for XP.)

    (3) Anyone who wants to participate should be able to, and anyone who does NOT want to participate should be unaffected. This includes not getting spammed with annoying challenges and announcements.

    Frankly, what I’d most like to see is a Lamannia-like PvP server where you can copy your characters, boost your ego by battling twelve-year-olds, then wash your hands before logging back onto a live server.

  4. In my opinion all the people I’ve met that are ticked off by even the idea of DDO having any PVP just need to frankly… suck it up.
    I didn’t like playing PVP in WoW or Runescape when I played those games, and you know what I did? I just didn’t participate in them. It’s as simple as that. If having a game make PVP available makes you quit the game, then perhaps you didn’t like it much in the first place.

    I totally agree with the above points though, part of what kept me playing said games was that if I didn’t want to participate in PVP, I didn’t have to. That’s how it should be. PVP has to be an optional choice, and the rewards should either be cosmetic or only affect PVP performance.

What do you think?

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