Greedy Goblin

Monday, May 1, 2017

Ganking penalty to save the gankers

One of the things that Albion Online did right was ganking timeout. Gankers lose reputation which they must grind back. If their reputation goes too low, whey are teleported out of the limited PvP zone, and must live in the full PvP zone where they are less than happy because people fight back.

This is probably the best ganking regulation system I've ever seen. First thing first: why does a game needs gankers (beside the subscription of the killers)? Because they act as unpredictable opponent for gatherers. A gathering place without gankers is a place for bots and nolifers. Gankers bring risks which separate the smart gatherer from the dumb, rewarding skill. It also cull bots, since bots are extremely predictable, therefore can be butchered even by the most unskilled ganker.

Then why can't gankers just kill anyone? The most important answer (coming from an Albion dev) is that a place where ganking isn't penalized is equal to the free PvP zone (nullsec, black zone) and those who like being there are already there. They usually form zergs, providing very little opportunity to solo PvP-ers and gatherers who don't want to be slaves of the zerg. The very point of the limited PvP zone (lowsec, red zone) is to prevent the zerg from taking over and allow other groups for existing, including the seeds of the future zergs that beat out the current zerg. A game with only a big free PvP zone will soon be dominated by the "one zerg", with no other players (including other zergs) have any chance of building up to the point of being competitive.

The other reason is much more complicated and can be seen in this table:
Skilled ganker Noob ganker Skilled gatherer Noob gatherer
Skilled ganker meets 50 kills 50 dies Sure kills 50 kills 50 fails Sure kills
Noob ganker meets Sure death 50 kills 50 dies Sure fail 50 kills 50 fails
Skilled gatherer meets 50 lives 50 dies Sure lives Sure lives Sure lives
Noob gatherer meets Sure death 50 lives 50 dies Sure lives Sure lives

As you can see, it's not the gatherers, even the noob gatherers are in danger. They can live on simply by earning more than they lose to gankers. Also, if they goal was to protect noob gatherers, it would be easy to just ban ganking. It's the noob ganker who goes extinct if ganking is not penalized. For him, every encounter is fail or 50-50. This is very unwelcoming to new or casual gankers, especially since noob gatherers either get skilled or get out under the pressure of skilled gankers. Any game that gives no chance for new or casual players is doomed.

Please understand that chance =/= welfare. The ganking penalty that has to be paid before one can gank again slows down both skilled and new gankers equally. However by temporarily removing the skilled gankers, it gives a window for noob gankers to hunt without being hunted. EVE did it horribly: skilled gankers could gank all day and to prevent gatherers from going extinct, the mining ships were buffed to the point where a noob ganker can't even touch them, creating a twisted ecosystem where both miners and gankers whine all day about the devs hating them. The truth is that the devs (probably not out of hate but incompetence) make the majority of the miners and the gankers (the noobs) miserable without ways to get better without external help. While I have little respect for those (morons and slackers) who don't read an external guide, I accept that the job of the game dev is to allow and support getting better inside the game. "Log off and read guides" is something I can advice, but a dev must not. The way to learn in game is to face an equal opponent (noob ganker vs noob gatherer) and learn from the encounter.


Smokeman said...

"A gathering place without gankers is a place for bots and nolifers."

And then if you add Ganker penalties (The rep system either in Albion or Eve) You get an environment where the pro gatherers running bots or being nolifers thrive. The low rent noobs are scared off, and the pros have run of the place. The pros know that the gankers can't just gank all day, they have to pick their targets carefully to maximize their chances for tears. Noobs with junk gear are the best, bots don't even cry.

There is no win here, really. This just looks like the same old ideas.

99smite said...

There used to be a game called "Archlord", which had a similar penalty and reputation system.
A ganker received differently coloured skull over his avatar. There wasn't a pvp zone iirc, but high level chars had quests, in which farming these skulls was required...

Smokeman said...

Whelp, as long as we're on ganking today:

The problem with open world PvP (I.E. "Ganking") is that it cannot be balanced. Why? Because human players do not want fair competition as they are advantage seekers. If method A has twice the reward/risk ratio as method B, method A will become the more prevalent meta.

NOTE: Not all players will seek advantage, a few actually want "fair fights." But they become a neutral party in this context. So "players" is specifically in reference to the non-neutral ones, the ones that will seek legal advantage.

So, you have 2 opposing groups: Players on one side who want advantage, and devs on the other side who are trying to design for balance, or at the least, a detente of some kind.

Bad news, devs! The players outnumber you by thousands or hundreds of thousands to one. Whatever "balance system" you can come up with, unless it's so mindlessly simple not even Commander Data can come up with a flaw in it, the players will come up with a meta that defeats it. All your time will be spent playing catch up. Forever. And ever.

Wherein lies the conundrum. Danger IS exciting. Competition IS fun. But adding "danger" to a noob's initial efforts doesn't require another player, an "Alpha Predator" NPC will do nicely. What new player in WoW BC's Honor Hold didn't want to pee their little pants the first time they were targeted by a Fel Reaver?

Next, the whole "Gatherers gotta gather" mind set. Why? As a time sink? That just promotes rarity and botting. There has to be a better way. The first step is to remove the economic incentive of "professions" as if this is the real world... it's not... and the conventional rules of manufacturing and business do not apply in the same way, if at all.

Gevlon said...

@Smokeman: as long as every tool is available and learnable to all players, the fight is balanced. If action X is powerful, you are just as able to perform X as Joe. The problem comes from most players are too dumb/lazy to learn X.

Remember, I hauled for years in EVE, every day with more value than the worst ALOD of the week, often over the value of a titan and still never got ganked.

Looch said...

This was actually the worst game design a wannabe SANDBOX PvP game could implement.
Mixed with horrible resources distribution it resulted in former "PvP regions" which became 100% safe gathering lands.

The concept of high-risk=high-reward was killed as well as the fundamental design of "you're in a PvP area - expect PvP interaction", because of people crying being killed in a PvP area or not able to grind/farm safely when in a PvP area.

It's like crying if your freighter get ganked while in EvE's low-sec. Utterly idiotic.
No wonders that SBI looking after this kind of playerbase resulted in Albion Online being a dead game already with an empty huge idiotic map.

Smokeman said...


Yeah, that's the predictable result of the "risk = reward" balanced by "gank = timeout" design. It will always devolve to "Most of the gatherers leave" or "Most of the PvP areas become inaccessible to gankers."

The devs look at that and say "Well crap. Who pays the bills?"... and it ain't the gankers.

The basic design is fundamentally flawed because of the reason I mentioned earlier.

Gevlon's wish that all those sucks just "git güd" isn't going to happen. Ever. Any sustainable design must recognize that.

Looch said...

it is not about gankers - it is about it being a PvP area and people expecting SBI to introduce a game mechanic to avoid PVP into a PVP area.
Talking about gank is idiotic in any openworld PvP Sandbox game.

Besides, the reputation system is so badly designed it has holes like a colander.

Who pays the bill of a PVP SANDBOX game? Well, SBI believed the bills will be paid by carebears and crybabies and not PVPers. Unfortunately the whole PVE/Gathering/Crafting is so poorly designed that such player base can find plenty of better games leaving SBI with a hanful of flies.
This is already happening as Albion Online has now only 1/3 of it's population - loosing 2/3 of players in a month is pretty bad right?

Gevlon said...

@Looch: have you even read the post? The reputation system is created exactly to protect the gankers from better gankers. Without it, yellow would be black, and gankers don't like black because people there fight back.

Albion is losing population because it's rigged. There are multiple features (gold speculation, focus points, LP) that are created to make any gameplay stupidly sub-optimal ways of getting power.