Greedy Goblin

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

PVE games, PvP games, griefers and highsec kills

There are lot of PvP games out there. Games where you advance by defeating enemy players. Chess is a pure PvP-game. There is no PvE content in chess, all you can do is fighting other players. You can elevate on the ladder only by defeating other players and if you are defeated, you lose rating. Chess is a non-consensual PvP game, the only way to avoid PvP is not playing.

You can play chess against a computer. Does it violate the above statement? Does playing against a computer make you play "PvE chess"? No. Not because some computer AIs are so good that they can defeat master players. Not because some day a true AI will be created who will have true intelligence and self-awareness and playing chess against it wouldn't be different than playing against an equally rated player. Not even because if you play on a computer, you might be unable to tell if your opponent is the computer, or another player over the internet.

The reason why playing chess against a computer is still PvP is that the computer opponent uses the same tools as you. The computer has the same pieces, can make the same move. The computer AI obeys the same rules as a player, therefore it is a player. Maybe a bad player who can be easily defeated, but no different than an equally bad human player. There are such bots for HL Counterstrike, League of Legends, Starcraft and they don't decrease the PvP nature of these games. Since the bots usually suck, defeating them is considered newbie activity, something that help you learn the basics. One that only plays against a bot therefore considered a "noob", a bad player who can only defeat the weak bots.

PvE games can be defined as games where the computer opponent obeys different rules as the player. For example the quilboars of WoW or the Guristas of EVE just spawn from nothing, use different skills and their strength is different from the strength of a player in equal sized character. For example the lvl 10 quilboar warrior has much smaller armor and DPS than a lvl 10 player, while a raidboss has much-much more HP than the players and meant to be defeated 1 v 25. Defeating such "mobs" is either considered "grinding" or "completing content", but not actual combat. You can only compete against an opponent. The quilboars are not opponents for any player, while a chess AI is an opponent. It beats some players and loses to some, but it plays the same game as you.

In PvP games the competition is direct. You win chess by defeating opponents. There is competition in PvE games too. 100m running is a PvE sport. You are in your lane, running against the time of other players. You have to reach the goal zone before they do, and they can do nothing to stop you except by "completing the content" faster. Such competition can be seen in WoW World first fights.

Now to the interesting topic: griefers. Ever heard of chess-griefers? I didn't. Does it mean that chess players are all gentlemen? Maybe, so let's look at a much less gentlemanly game: boxing. Any stories of box-griefers? No, the ear-bite doesn't count, as the biter was banned from the game.

In PvP games, the goal is to defeat the other player, to destroy his ingame assets: remove his chess pieces, kill his avatar in CS, knock his body out in the boxing ring. The game is already all-out PvP, you can't be more destructive to the opponent than you already are without breaking the game rules. You are here to defeat him, take away his rating, break his dreams of winning. No trash talk or random idiocy can beat that. Besides exploits, the game rules of a video game cannot be broken as they are enforced by the code, so there cannot be griefing in PvP video games without bugs. (I ignore teamkillers as they are a by-product of automatic matching, you don't have them in handpicked teams).

"Griefing" can only happen in PvE games. It can only be defined in PvE. Griefing is an act that delays another player from reaching his goal while it delays me equally, which is stupid as the third player will get ahead of both of us. If arthasdklol parks his mammoth mount on the top of the postbox, other players can't use the box. He can't use it either and he can't do anything since he is sitting on the box. His action is totally pointless in-game, and has only one goal: inconveniencing other players. It doesn't make arthasdklol win, actually it makes him lose (as he is locked out from every game activity while sitting on the box, while his opponents are only locked out of the box).

There are lot of usage of the term "griefer" in EVE, proving that most people experience it as a PvE game. They believe that they can "win" it by reaching some goal (ISK, ship type, standing) before the others and blowing their ship up randomly serves no competitive purpose for the attacker, he is just after tears. Maybe the developers didn't mean this. Maybe they wanted players to PvP. But they failed to implement any reward system that makes most of the players fight (for any other reason than "harvesting tears"). There is Sov map. There are resources in nullsec. They clearly meant players to fight for it. (more about it in a later post). They probably ignored the fact that most MMO players just want to improve their character and they won't risk it unless they are forced. PvP games force them: you fight an opponent in chess or don't play chess. In EVE, you can stay forever in highsec, or dock up when neutral arrives in null while "improving your character". Many don't even see why should they fight. To grief a stranger?

Not having clear definitions lead people consider completely valid PvP "griefing" and demand developers to stop it. Like this snowflake thread where some genius demands more developer help against destroying freighters overfilled with valuable loot. Since the loot is valuable, taking it increases ones power. The attackers will be more rich after the attack (assuming average drop-loss rate) than before. This is the definition of competitive PvP: your loss is my gain. It is not griefing (your loss is my loss too, but I don't care lol). Players can always win competitive PvP by playing better. For example by not filling 20B cargo to a freighter. Next time use an Orca for the small and valuable cargo, or carry it in 1B batches in a freighter.

Wednesday morning report: 144.4B, Damn the FW exploits and CCP being so slow with the fix. (5.5 spent on main accounts, 3.6 spent on Logi/Carrier, 3.2 on Ragnarok, 2.6 on Rorqual, 2.4 on Nyx, 2.8 on Avatar, 17.4 sent as gift)


Azuriel said...

Your argument only makes sense in 1v1 PvP games. And even then it doesn't pass.

In team-based games, you absolutely can have personal rivalries that you pursue to the detriment of both teams. In the Counter-Strike, you can have someone who exclusively tries to hunt down that one sniper who pissed him off every match. Trash talking on the Football field leads to questionable plays and penalties.

More to the point, you are attempting to define "play to win" as being a part of the fundamental rules. It's not, and never has been. The rules tell you how one can play, but not why.

A Griefer, almost by definition, is someone playing for a different reason (or by different rules) than you. A Chess griefer can be someone who plays "legitimately" but does so in a way to maximize the annoyance he/she causes. Playing extremely slowly, for example. Or toying with you, or dragging the game out, or whatever else. Not to mention what can happen when you aren't playing Chess in tournaments with timers and judges and ELO scores.

I mean... no griefing in PvP games? Have you ever played Monopoly? Christ, I have lost friends over that board game.

Gevlon said...

Yes, I know about "campers" in CS, however it's a legitimate playstyle and above all, can lead to win. If you lose temper and rush the positioned sniper, he wins, you lose. While you ASSUME that he camps to annoy you, he might do it clearly to win. Same thing for playing chess defensively.

But the main point is that by playing better, you can finally defeat him, you won, and he lost so at the end, he was griefed. You can't do it in a PvE game. There is absolutely nothing you can do with arthasdklol standing on the postbox.

Debra Tao said...

Have you ever play chess on internet ? Well there are players that either chain lose to score easy and 'fun' win or players that just use Fritz to play the game... How is that not griefing ? Same in starcraft where people are abusing the rating system to play against lesser opponents. Not to mention players that will refuse to quit the game in Starcraft.

Sure you can win in both cases but it' not a realistic approach of the problem. To be even against a chess program you have to dedicate your life to it, to beat a master player in starcraft you have to spend hundreds of hours playing it. It's not an easy thing to do, it's not 'oh i guess i will just make two runs with my freighter then'.

Barnet said...

Gevlon said: "In PvP games, the goal is to defeat the other player, to destroy his ingame assets..."

Not true. My son used to play some FPS (CS?) purely for the griefing.

Some of his tactics:

* with friendly fire on, shoot a team mate in the foot until they retaliated, killed him and the team mate were kicked off the server;

* deliberately lose battles to annoy his team;

* when playing with his friend, the two of them would block narrow passages from the spawn to the battlefield to stop his team from the playing the game.

He "won" if his targets left the game or if he was kicked from the server. He was proud of the number of servers on which he had been banned.

gnome of zurich said...

the point about PvP games involving griefing when more than 1v1 is accurate though.

Playing any kind of team or multiplayer game, it is quite possible for individuals to bring desires to the game which have nothing to do with winning, and which can involve griefing other players.

Think of any multiplayer board game, like civilization, diplomacy, risk, monopoly, etc. I have seen players who will give away the game just to mess with someone else, and not necessarily as punishment of a defector, but just because they don't like the person, or it amuses them. For instance in diplomacy, issuing an all out attack against one other player right in the beginning of the game. it effectively guaranteed a loss for the player performing the action, but did the same for the player being attacked randomly, and there was nothing the attacked player could do about it.

It's exactly the same as griefing in a PvE game, even though every single player in the game is a real opponent, playing against the others, and under the same rules/restrictions.

Gevlon said...

@Barnet: these are all examples to grief teammates. It can be avoided by bringing your own team. In random teams griefers are the smaller problems. M&S are.

@Debra: you can't beat a master player unless you are one. One thing of PvP is better wins.

@Gnome: but at least the griefer loses too and he is viewed as "loser idiot". He can't get away with "lol I play for fun" as at the end he is defeated by one of the players, get a "you have lost" sign.

Bosh said...

Your distinction between PvP (hurting others to get an in-game benefit) and griefing (hurting others for the lolz) is one that makes sense to me.

However, while in some games you can't really PvP in all games you can grief. Just because in PvP games griefing makes you lose doesn't distinguish that from griefing in PvE games. If you act out of spite in Diplomacy you'll lose (no advance in the ranking ladder) and if you sit on the mail box with your mammoth you lose (no content completed). Same difference.