Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The false debate on non-consensual PvP

This isn't a large post, yet a very important one which hopefully ends the "is non-consensual PvP is good for a game or not" dabate? No it's not a decisive argument in either way. It's decisive in a sense that the question itself is wrong and shouldn't be asked.

In a game, always a pixel avatar does things against your pixel avatar. In EVE a spaceship comes to blow up your spaceship. Or your spaceship goes to blow up that spaceship. During combat various modules are activated and at the end usually one spaceship blows ups. Does it make any difference if that other spaceship is player controlled or not?

Actually, if the game companies wouldn't make special tools to identify player characters, we couldn't even know. Imagine that there would be no local channel and the name of the pilot wouldn't show up on the overview. You would only see a Merlin or a Retriever or an Erebus. Without these artificial tools you could only say "I destroyed/was destroyed by a Merlin". Would the game be any different? People die to rats all the time. Do you think this player is happier that his 7B Machariel was lost to Blood Raiders instead of xxPizza?

The question that you should be asking is "should people be defeated in the game or should they always win?"

The answer of WoW is "they should only win". The worst thing that can happen to you in WoW is simply not advancing. And no, PvP doesn't change that, if you enter a battleground and you capture zero objectives, score no kills and totally graveyard camped, you will lose nothing and earn honor points. Blizzard could advertise their game with "everyone is a winner here", they don't do it because it would scare away non-players and decrease the self-esteem of the bad players who are very sure that their progression has anything to do with their skill or effort instead of welfare given out by the developers.

PvP being consensual or not is a completely irrelevant point. You can easily design a game with consensual PvP only (or no PvP at all) and yet with losses: Diablo hardcore mode is a good example. Similarly the non-consensual PvP in WoW PvP servers (bored top levels oneshot leveling newbies) doesn't change WoW as the victim lost nothing but a few seconds. While evaluating the game, ignore PvP status and seek if the player has a chance to lose or he can only win regardless of which buttons he pressed.

When players and developers focus on the PvP status instead of loss status, we get the chimera of EVE highsec. It is practically safe PvE-wise, NPCs don't gank you at the gates, belt rats can be handled by T1 drones of mining barge, mission rats rarely if ever kill missioners. On the other hand PvP-ers can kill ships at will. The two must be matched. If highsec is meant to be a safe place where people can lol around, than PvP losses has no place either. If highsec is meant to be a risky place where you get some backup from the Empire NPCs, then the pirate NPCs should be much more aggressive. The problem of the newbie is that he can lol around at will, everything is nice and shiny and then bang, suicide ganked and podded with all his assets going down. If he'd be losing frigs left and right to scramming mission NPCs in the end missions of the career agents, then he'd both be expecting losses and also learn to tank his ship at the cost of cheap frigs instead of battlecruisers. If belt rats in 1.0-0.8 would be serious risk to his Venture, he wouldn't be losing untanked Retrievers in 0.5 to Catalysts. If Guristas would suicide gank his Badger I on a gate during a L2 hauling mission, he wouldn't lose a Badger II with 300M cargo.

The infamous learning curve comes from the game being incoherent: laughable NPCs + vicious players. Either tame the players by taking away their ability to hurt other players or buff up the NPCs so the newbie can practice on his own speed.


PS: You laughed on 300M Drakes or 100M T1 cruisers? Then you'll love this!

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just an interesting topic to think about:

How the "pvp-scene" would change in EVE if killmails are removed, i.e. there would be no way to collect various statistics about various aspects of your pvp "performance" and compare it with others. The game would not be changed at all, but I think the impact would be huge and way bigger than ship balance changes, concorde tuning, timings, etc.

soresu said...

"The worst thing that can happen to you in WoW is simply not advancing."

Which, in a race, assures failure.

It is possible to lose at WoW if your objective is a certain arena rating for a given season, a certain extent of PvE progression in the current tier, or some other time-limited goal. Even if I'm just levelling a character, and I happen to be unlucky enough to get ganked repeatedly for that play session, I lost the battle of that day's progress, and bear its opportunity cost.

As you are fond of saying yourself, time is the most valuable resource that MMO players have. When failure removes existing resources, as in EVE, the time punishment is that much higher, but reversal versus stagnation is just a matter of degree.

Anonymous said...

Personally I find that the difference here is choice.

The guy who lost his mach knew what he was doing heading into the mission - most like went afk and suffered for it.

Same thing applies to the miner who only fits a poor tank and T1 drones to take care of the belt rats. They are quite aware of the fact that belt rats are easy and only require T1 drones to take care of them.

Players don't choose to be ganked - its at the choice of the attacker(s) and not the victim.

Non-concensual PvP is a core part of what EVE is and I think anyone who wants to remove it is missing the point of what makes EVE special.

rumblow said...

The only people "debating" this are gankers (so many tears!) and maybe, what, 1% of carebears (or less?).

This "debate" exploded when gankers failed to understand the incredibly simple new consensual PvP changes. They proceeded to blow it up out of all proportion by their insane and wholly irrelevant ranting. Irrelevant because they were arguing and crying rivers over something they made up in their heads, rather than reality.

Unfortunately, many gankers read "All PvP is now consensual". If it's still not obvious, having the option of consensual PvP does not take away non-consensual PvP. I know, tricky right?

The only ones who are saying "make all PvP consensual" are a tiny (a really tiny) minority of those who do not even partake in PvP anyway.

At least you were spot on with your title "The false debate on non-consensual PvP", just completely wrong and outdated with the rest of your post.

As for your somewhat ridiculous question that should be asked. I lol'd. That question was asked AND answered before EvE was even coded and isn't going to change.

Also your ramblings about rats being smarter / a more pvp like experience etc. has already been mentioned by CCP as the direction that they are going to go about a month or so ago.

Basically, your whole post was redundant long before you conceived it.

Dobablo said...

I would like to see progressionally harder pirates linked to miners in high sec belts.

A miner in a belt spawns a single rat after a couple of minutes. The longer they stay there, the more powerful and frequent become the new rats (up to a max). Miners need to keep moving to new belts or fit decent tanks.

Anonymous said...

non-consensual PvP is important in sandbox games, because without them it is hardly a sandbox.

However, there are games where consensual PvP is of course valid and important.

And i think there is also a middle row - a game which supports non-consensual pvp but allows for cases where 2 people do want to consent to shooting each other in the face with no consequences for either from a game point of view (though the loss may or may not be real).

Von Keigai said...

You ask, "does it make any difference if that other spaceship is player controlled or not?" Of course it does. Men love dominance. We can be fooled, so that "dominating" a computer program can be fun for a while. But it always loses its thrill because eventually you come to know it is not human and has not emotion. And therefore, you are not really dominating anyone. This is why playing many games is fun at first but then loses its fun as you learn to exploit the stupidity of the AI. The worse the AI, the faster this happens. You still "win" the games (in fact you win more), but you are less happy with it.

Like hunger or lust, the desire to dominate is an evolutionarily programmed appetite. As such it never gets stale. People cry. Tears. This is what EVE runs on: dominance. People will pay considerable sums of real money to get it. It is a brilliant design: a game where you pay real money for the thrill of dominance. People who don't care as much about it buy PLEX and feel good about winning the ISK race and playing the game for free. Normal men buy subscriptions and PLEX and try to win at PVP. CCP gets $15/month per account.

There is a future goldmine for the first company that can develop an AI good enough to convince men it is a person. Then we truly can have a game of all winners in PVP. But it's going to have to be able to cry in local. This is still far off. Meanwhile, the only way to convince players they are dominating a real-live human being is to let them do it.

Heywood Djiblomi said...

2.1B Retriever... Breathtakingly stupid choice to fit those MLUs on a ship with virtually zero tank (and lacking in slots to tank well at all).

Rammstein said...

@rumblow:

"This "debate" exploded when gankers failed to understand the incredibly simple new consensual PvP changes. They proceeded to blow it up out of all proportion by their insane and wholly irrelevant ranting. Irrelevant because they were arguing and crying rivers over something they made up in their heads, rather than reality.

Unfortunately, many gankers read "All PvP is now consensual". If it's still not obvious, having the option of consensual PvP does not take away non-consensual PvP. I know, tricky right?"

So, in Rumblow's deluded little mind, the gankers in the New Order who are even as we speak using the new PvP mechanics to blow up billions of ISK every day in miner hulls and pods are completely clueless as to how those mechanics work--while those same miners, shorn of their inadequately tanked barges and exhumers despite their recent unprecentedly large EHP buff, are expressing through their confused bleatings of rage and despair, only their happiness that now they are the ones who really understand and benefit by the aggression mechanics? what an interesting take on things you have, Rumblow.

If you want to have any idea of what you speak, of who understands the aggression mechanics, and who's crying rivers of tears...you might want to come actually observe gankers and gankees in action. Right now you're making clueless newbs look good in comparison, as you're well past them into the realm of beliefs requiring massive doses of hallucinogens to maintain. Or, you could just stay the way you are and we could all keep pointing and laughing.

Anonymous said...

@Dobablo
I'll second that idea - great suggestion!

@Gevlon
That Retriever fit is ridiculous. 2 billion worth of MLU's. Unbelievable. Were they AFK when you popped him?

Either people have ridiculous amounts of money to waste or simply stupid.Or they thought they were safe in highsec.

New Order will correct that thought process. ;)

Azuriel said...

Yes, of course it makes a difference.

Do rats suddenly show up with a fleet of 20 ships to alpha-strike you? Do rats have a predisposition to targeting the weakest ships and/or the ones with the juiciest cargo? Do rats hold grudges, harass you in and out of game? Do rats put up Moron of the Week posts on blogs? Players always display a viciousness that no script could ever replicate.

In any case, as pointed out by others, I cannot possibly imagine why you believe opportunity cost doesn't exist in "never lose" games like WoW. Indeed, the only thing you ever lose in any game is time - the only difference is that of quantity. Whether it is "a few seconds" or a few weeks is simply a matter of degree... one that can bridged with IRL money in EVE's case.

Anonymous said...

The answer of WoW is "they should only win". The worst thing that can happen to you in WoW is simply not advancing. And no, PvP doesn't change that, if you enter a battleground and you capture zero objectives, score no kills and totally graveyard camped, you will lose nothing and earn honor points.

Tell me that during the nights we had where we lost 300 rating/gladiator (mainly if one on the team was too drunk to press buttons), it would feel as a loss. It would take a considerate amount of time (sometimes, depending if we bothered queue dodging counters) and thus resources to get back to our original rating. I also have had teammates who take losses more serious than most other things in life.

I also disagree with your dichotomy. You undervalue the risk of getting killed. While it doesn't happen(and thus doesn't get complains), it will still create some tension and influence game play decisions. This makes the play experience slightly more diverse in high sec, without being a nuisance. It probably is a huge positive factor for a lot of players.

I would say: increase the cost of ganking in high sec. Or give the person that is being ganked a % of the suicide ganker.

Rumblow said...

@Rammstein

OMG are you looking and sounding foolish. Please read on...

here's what you said Rammstein:
"the gankers in the New Order who are even as we speak using the new PvP mechanics to blow up billions of ISK every day in miner hulls and pods..."

OK Rammstein, let's see if you can read what I wrote again. I'll make the key part big and bold for you OK? Maybe you'll then understand the very very simple sentence. Here goes...

I wrote this:
"This debate exploded when gankers failed to understand the incredibly simple NEW CONSENSUAL PvP changes."

Did you manage to read it this time Rammstein? Just in case, I'll spell it our really clearly...

a) NEW
b) CONSENSUAL PvP

Got it? I hope so. If not, just go away please.

So, the NEW part. They are NEW and on the test server SISI. For some odd reason, you believe that some gankers are using this on the live server right now. A suggestion: Before calling someone deluded, look in the mirror first.

Now then, why would gankers be using a CONSENSUAL PvP mechanic to errr gank someone?

The idiocy of what you actually said has truly astounded me. To then lace such complete idiocy with ad-hom attacks on other people who make valid points really does you proud doesn't it Rammstein?

Goodbye and have a nice life.

Maxim Preobrazhenskiy said...

It does matter if the other ship is piloted by humans. Player characters provide an incredible amount of variance in possible exhibited behaviour. An AI that would succesfully and consistently match it without displaying flaws would cost way more to develop than the game itself.

Playing against a computer, no matter how good, ultimately gets repetitive and boring. With humans it only gets so if the design of the game itself rewards playing like a robot (f/ex AFK mining).

Secondly, the definition of "win" is entirely subjective. Even in a compltely objective-less game like, say, Minecraft people will still find ways to both win and lose.

The more interesting question is "how much effort is required to progress in a game, regardless of your objectives". Sure, in WoW you don't lose. But if you don't complete objectives, you win so little that reaching your goal would take days if not weeks of getting the floor wiped with yourself.

Eve highsec seems to require no effort on part of the player at all. Money is easy through afk-mining, "PvE" missions seem to simply be an overlooked part of the game.

Duke of O said...

It took me a long time to finish replying to this post, which ballooned from a few paragraphs into an out and out essay. My argument is that while WoW caters for the broadest possible market there exists in-game several sub-species of gaming which are extremely competitive environments where skill, planning, strategy and teamwork are not just present, but are mandatory if you wish to excel.

http://nullsignifier.blogspot.jp/2013/02/wow-is-for-morons-and-slackers.html

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