Sep 242012

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

Balance the Contest, Not the Game

One of the more divisive topics relating to Player-versus-Player (PvP) combat is the concept of balancing the contestants to make every possible fight “fair”.

A truly equal contest is probably an unreachable goal; even if two players face off with identical characters, one of them is likely to have a better connection or a faster GPU. Advantage: gear. Disadvantage: the concept of a perfectly balanced competition.

But that doesn’t mean that some equality isn’t a good thing. A 2nd level melee character has no chance at all against a capped Wizard. No chance. The low-level melee will be spelled to death without even touching the wizard every single time.

Evidence suggests that there is some desire for PvP balancing on the part of the DDO playerverse. There is a constant series of forum threads asked (demanding?) Turbine to “balance” the classes. While those are generally shouted down, even more level-headed attempts to provide an enjoyable PvP experience include self-balancing in the form of voluntary rules.

Consider the annual Tuffman Bowl PvP event. Most of the text of the event announcement consisted of rules that attempt to voluntarily balance the contest by forbidding many spells, effects, and classes.

Nor is Tuffman unique in this approach.

Why not enforce this approach in the game? Why not bundle it into PvP directly and make it an every day capability?

Let players balance PvP themselves
Balance PvP yourself, the way you think is best

Consider the UI mockup above. This is an example only, but illustrates the idea of allowing players to enable or disable capabilities themselves, per PvP session, removing any further PvP-based clamor to balance classes in the PvE game.

If you don’t want Bards to be able to mesmerize your character or casters to be able to Finger of Death your awesome barbarian, simply turn off those capabilities.

There is one misleading element to the UI mockup. I started with an existing UI and reused the “Begin Challenge” button. But this is wrong, completing this UI should not launch the challenge. It should place the challenge on the LFM queue so that it appears on the LFM UI.

As with quest parties that are LFMs, the organizer’s name appears and hovering over the name displays other characters who are already in the group. Instead of listing the selected quest, the UI would list the selected PvP event by showing the arena and PvP type, for instance “Free for All, Devils Pit”. Hovering over the PvP event description would show which capabilities are bring disabled for the event.

Just like any other LFM, the organizer would be able to allow or disallow classes, add a level range, determine the number of players participating, and accept or deny individuals that apply to be part of the group.

One of the underlying assumptions I made when thinking about this is that it ought to be easier for Turbine coders to identify when a character is in a PvP session and disable abilities that it would be to add anything new. This could be a flawed assumption. But I suspect even at it’s worse it will be something that is actually do-able at some level, while attempting to balance the classes overall is not do-able with any amount of effort.

As for me, I like Finger of Deathing the barbarian. I’m not sure I wold disable anything. But then I am very bad at PvP; perhaps this is part of why.

🙂 😀 🙂

  3 Responses to “PvP: Balance the Contest, Not the Game”

Comments (3)
  1. I’ve been frequenting the Wayward Lobster’s PVP pit for around a year or so now on Khyber; and this seems like a really, really good idea to me.
    People do tend to enforce these rules. I would consider myself one of those such people. Those who have been around the pit for a while know that there are certain abilities or strategies that require very specific counters to live through, or you die immediately. These are things like: An AA popping manyshot at the same time as using Slayer arrows; Monk’s Touch of Death, any Savant ability, Virtuoso songs, etc. These actually anger a lot of people. Anger.
    So I think that just having this ability to pick and choose which certain things are allowed or not would be a huge improvement to our PVP experience and would remove a lot of the hostility I’ve seen in the pit. After all, we’re here to have fun :p

  2. Is it bad that I now have an urge to hop into the Wayward Lobster on my Virt, look for the braggiest arse there, and then Song of Capering him before scampering back up the ladder?

    One of the things PvP most needs is its own chat channel. Not simply a user chat that can be joined, but a dedicated in-game channel similar to Advice and Trade. Let people turn it off and on. Alternatively, make the PvP pits their own separate instance, so we don’t have to listen to the braggy arses full of themselves because they ganked an L4 rogue on their capped wizard…

  3. so in other words to balance the game you need to nerf builds. man go play a game that dosnt need so much work to make it the way YOU want it.

What do you think?

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