Greedy Goblin

Friday, December 13, 2013

Need for sheep

I usually don’t read SynCaine, but this post got my attention. “The biggest challenge for any PvP sandbox developer is figuring out how to keep the sheep around. The easiest challenge is figuring out how to keep the wolves. If you look at the history of this MMO sub-genre, it’s not difficult to notice a pattern of developers focusing on the wolves, losing the sheep, and then seeing the wolves lose interest as well, despite making so many of the changes they asked for.”

This statement is obvious to everyone. It’s all over the EVE forums. “We need farms and fields”, “we need interceptors to cross defensive bubbles”, “remove local from null because safeing up is too easy”. No one questions that there must be “peasants” to feed the “PvP food chain”.

But if we start thinking, it’s not obvious at all. There are no PvE players in Chess, Counterstrike, World of Tanks, or in League of Legends. These players (unless purposefully smurfing) are facing other “armed” players with approximately equal skill. These PvP games pit players against each other who can all fight and win. This is PvP. Killing a sheep is by definition a gank.

The MMO PvP-ers give the “no fucks given, just let’s get good fights” attitude and also the “HTFU” answer for every criticism about bad designs, bugs, lack of information that they already learned to work around. But their true nature lies in their actions, not their words. The truth is that – despite they all claim to seek good fights – they find it rarely. How can it be hard when everyone else is looking for it? Just meet somewhere and fight like RvB! And the truth is what SynCaine wrote: after the sheep left the game, the wolves lose interest, despite now there are only wolves around, providing good fights. The wolf-only game is perfect according to their claims. Counterstrike, Chess and League of Legends are all-wolf games. Why do wolves leave the all-wolf PvP MMOs?

The truth is that the MMO PvP-ers are doing two things:
  • Gank sheep, noobs, carebears, stranded capitals
  • Create ideology why their ganks are “true PvP” while the ganks of other people are ganks
I already wrote that real PvP is consensual, simply because if one side doesn’t want to fight it means he sees no chance to win. If he saw chance, he’d engage willingly. Winning over someone who has no chance to win is gank by definition.

The trick of selling a PvP-MMO is creating the illusion among gankers that they are respectable fighters while protecting them from respectable fights, as their less skilled half would be massacred and quit instead of “HTFU” as they claim. EVE works so good because it’s trivially easy to gank PvE players. Becoming a pirate is only matter of choice. You don’t have to be any good to massacre the sheep, I killed 134B worth in a month, despite I have zero skills according to everyone.

One of the reasons why wormhole space is unpopulated is here you aren’t protected from real fights. I mean in lowsec you can just lol around in frigates you don't care about and no one can touch your assets in the station. In Null, you can fly only reimbursed fleet ships without having any personal assets at all. In WH space if you are a pain in the ass to someone with your damn frig, he can just blow up your tower with all your stuff.

PS: I've discussed the "skill" a lot recently, it's a shame that I just found this video. While swordfight isn't a video game, the guy with the hat shows exactly what I think of skill in competition, while the guy in black more or less shows what the "true good fight PvP" people think.


Anonymous said...

It's easy to validate, or not, your claims. Just try pvp and see how different it is from miner ganks. That difference is what keeps players interested, while ganks are only an addition, not worth bragging about. They happen and provide a sort of variety, but otherwise they are not engaging. That's why people do them, but quickly forget what just happened. It's not worth remembering.

Anonymous said...

There is no all-wolves game. What happens is armed sheeps mingle with wolves and "playforfun" while wolves "playforwin"
Definition of fun and win may vary slightly per person but not significantly

daniel said...

you can't compare chess, cs, lol & co with eve.
while these are defined games with a defined ruleset, eve is an open virtual world with a given physic/mechanic only, and it's up to the player to act in this world to his likings.

yes, eve ganking mechanism caters to those that want to feel relevant without providing the necessary skills to really be.
but eve's "pvp" mechanism caters also to those that would otherwise play a game of chess, cs and lol.
many ppl in this game leave the gank and go for the goodfight.
(un)fortunately, due to the many gankers in the game, these are not allways easy to find, therefore another softskill is required - fight.selection.

a very good example of chess/cs like pvp in eve is joining rvb. they have one system reserved for honored 1v1 frig fights - the beauty of the sandbox, where everybody can lay out and play his own minigame.

to your ganking.
it's not like there is no skill needed to do that.
the criticism was, that the numbers that you generated weren't comparable with the numbers generated by a nullsec alliance, as this ally defined a different minigame in which it was competing.
if you would have compared yourself to other (miner) gankers only noone would have had any problems with your doing/writing.

which raises the question, have you ever compared yourself to other gankers?
i never saw you post a statistic about that.

maxim said...

There is one big factor you are not considering. MMO PvP is preparation-centric.

Winning is generally done either trough overwhelming display of skill in actual combat, or by being better prepared before the combat. MMOs tend to put much more focus on preparation than on actual execution.

This has mostly to do with the fact that the mechanics of MMOs are saddled with necessity to deal with hundreds if not thousands of players in the same battle and thus are unable to provide the kind of mechanical finesse you see in FPS and the like. It is mostly a technical limitation, involving latency and the like.

Separating a large MMO into arenas and battlegrounds doesn't really help matters, because you can't exactly ask the players to play a game like a FPS in an arena and like an MMO outside of it.

Blizzard does a hat trick with it's bgs and arenas by giving everyone equal PvP gear (thus everyone is equally prepared) and then only giving top rewards to a top percentage of participants, thus forcing emphasis on execution. However, they constantly find themselves in a situation where underlying MMO mechanics get in the way of pure PvP experience.

Either way, MMO PvP is preparation-centric by necessity. In Eve terms, fitting your ship properly and finding the correct target the PvP. There is also a comparatively minor skill requirement.

I mean, you obviously can screw up a Catalyst gank, but it is way easier to screw up than a CC chain in WoW arena, which is way easier to screw up still than some micro-intensive SC play or a rocket jump sequence in UT.

Covops plays and the like may require more skill, but it doesn't show in the vids i've seen. So at this junction i have no real grounds to separate what Gevlon did from what the "true Eve PvP l33t" are doing. Which is fitting the ship properly, deciding on a tactic in advance, finding the right target and then executing it all "by-the-book".

Fidtz said...

This post is obviously correct to anyone who has played multiple MMO games.

The difference that makes the "all-wolf" games of Chess, LoL and CS viable? It is ALWAYS possible for the sheep to become the wolf by getting better. You don't get blocked from improvement by losing.

In a "wolf-only" MMO that retains the time/level/social based progression of skills/gear/spells/money or whatever, it would be basically impossible for a sheep to become a wolf and since all but the genius players start as sheep , there is no game except for the 1st generation of wolf players. The genius players would recognise a degenerate game and go and play a nice game of chess instead.

One of the reasons that CoD and BF dominate in FPS numbers over CS is that they came up with the clever system to "break-in" the sheep gently and allow them to artificially progress and potentially learn to be wolves up to the point everything is unlocked. They can still beat up on sheep (unless they are wolves in ....) but there is a still a "wolf-comparison" base line once a player has unlocked everything.

Anonymous said...

Films are often made in a non-sequential way. In the original script Indiana Jones (for it is he in the hat) was supposed to fight the guy in black using his whip. However, the filming the day before had involved the actor Harrison Ford going under a lorry and climbing onto the lorry, and having a fight on the lorry. During that piece the actor Harrison Ford was injured.

Thus the following day when he was to whip fight the guy in the black robes he was feeling the effects of the previous days injury, so they changed the scene to him shooting the guy in black robes with his revolver.

I am not sure what that says about consensual and non-consensual pvp, but I feel sure Gevlon you can enlighten us.

Incidentally in WoT some players use XVM mod addon. That will tell you how good an opponent is. Thus when you find yourself facing two enemy the normal tactical decision would be to finish off the most damaged one. However, if you see that he is a weaker player the decision changes to killing the more accomplished enemy first, and then turning to the poorer player, despite the fact that the stronger enemy player might be two shots to finish as opposed to one for the less accomplished player. The strategic decision is that the more accomplished enemy is more able to target your own vehicles weak points and thus must be dealt with first, rather than the less accomplished player who is more likely to miss your vehicle altogether or may not succeed in damaging you even if he hits you.

What does using XVM do to WOT?
XVM also colour codes enemy and ally players according to skill. Thus less adept players are referred to as "tomatoes" as they are coloured red.

Anonymous said...

nice post. yes! in a true harsh place there is no foundation to build something like CONCORD. but it's needed otherwise there would be no one around playing. planetside and tribes did a somewhat good job on "taking care of sheep".

in chess, tennis, LoL, CS, Quake, Go, and other games you don't lose anything you need to grind for. You need practise, sure, to beat some better players. but besides beating you over and over again they can't take anything from you. A true PVP mmo would have NO pve at all. To this date no one build a true pvp mmo. it's all fairy tail rpg pve fest (eve also without elves). Also most PVP heavy games RL and VR are from the initial game start totally equal. sure some map positioning can be argues but like in hardset boardgames anyone is equal.
EVE super power RTS over years game doesn't have that. Also EVE doesn't have gameover or other final states no MMO does.

Kate 'On said...

the killer, explorer, social, and achiever have been the archetypes for a long time now, this is nothing new.

you should read this if you haven't arlready, does a good job explaining the balances of the 4

Phelps said...

Some things are so ingrained in American culture that I have to remind myself that we might NOT have exported them to the entire world, like Indiana Jones. (He's a bona fide American Icon at this point, so you don't need to show Americans the video, just say "Indy vs the guy with the sword.")

Coincidentally, the shot was ad libbed. There was supposed to be an extended fight scene, but Harrison Ford (the actor) was exhausted after a whole day of shooting stunts, and pulled and fired the prop gun, and the other stuntman, being a pro, sold the shot. They looked at it in the dailies and it was so "Indy" and so funny that they kept it.

obGaming: Actually, even strict PVP games have to keep the sheep around too, because they spend the money. WoT, for example, has the rigged MM to keep the sheep (terribads) happy. It was recently patented, and the MM is designed so that winners end up at the high end of their tank's tiering (facing bigger tanks) and losers end up at the low end of their tank's tiering (facing smaller tanks).

Unknown said...

I find it interesting that everyone knows that the gun vs sword scene was not as planned, but everyone has a slightly different story on exactly what happened (the ad lib and stunt man selling it is a new one for me)

I also find it very ironic that it was just a few days ago that Gevlon was talking about skill being bringing water with you to the desert as opposed to knowing how to get water from a cactus, as the clip he shows here is an example of the latter, a great cinematic success that came about one way or another from not being prepared.

Anonymous said...

Seems to me that MMO and PVP have always oil and water (mainly because they would activate different regions of the brain). Always a forced combination, never smoothly mixed, and separates at the slightest opportunity. So then I googled to try to disprove this hypothesis, and the first result - oh dear:

"Before Trammel, UO was more interesting for people that liked to kill other players, specifically players that didn't really want to play PvP.

Well, why would you play the game if you don't like getting attacked anywhere and everywhere? Because there were no other games to play.

How can you replicate that situation? You cannot ever replicate that situation again. Now, if you are killing someone in an MMORPG, it's because they like PvP. Otherwise, they will just go play LOTRO or something like that.

People complained about trammel, because after that there wasn't a game where you could kill players that didn't want to PvP. Simple as that. Sure, you can kill players in a PvP MMORPG. But that's not what some people want.

What they want, is to kill someone that's doing PvE, and has absolutely no desire to PvP. They they can say, ha ha, I have interrupted your gameplay! There is nothing you can do about it! You can't decide to PvE if you want, because I will decide you have to PvP! and if you don't like it, then cry like a baby Biatch!

But you can't do that anymore. People will just go play one of the hundreds of other games that exist now. "

"And what is REALLY funny about all that is in Darkfall (if it ever sees the proverbial light of day, so to speak) is that all of those "ganker" PKing type players will no longer have the DELIGHT of ganking people that are essentially helpless, to get their jollies....AND....they will each realize that there is someone more SKILLED at PvP than THEY are. I love it!! The senseless gankers will finally become the senselessly ganked and perhaps get a taste of their own frustrating medicine. Because even for those that are playing TO PvP, there will still be times that they will be inconveniently killed JUST when they finally had all the ore they needed for that new sword, etc, etc, ad infinitum."

Provi Miner said...

Let me say that every pvp'er I have met almost always starts with the story of the big kill, or big fight. Niether of which required piloting skills TBH. Mostly because they think thats what people want to hear. Hell I used our super cap kill as a recruitment tool to great effect, never mind the dude tried to log and the ship sat there for 10 min while we pounded it to scrap. But then you ask what was the "coolest" fight and their eyes will light up (it might even be a loss). You will hear a story of being out numbered, even numberd or having mores ships but lower meta. The fight will be brutal with fc's dieing by the moment, caps going dry, spinging out of controly fighting to gain range fighting to close range, praying for an alternat warp in, begging logi to save you as the alarms are going off. And it will have lasted less then three minuets. It is the real pvp that you knock, it happens. Not often by chance almost always by design but it happens. My point is that we (the players in general) ask for "the" war story but we really want to hear "that" story. That story is scary, its intense, everything relies on you doing more things right then the other guy. My that story was a frig cruiser gang vs a fw cruiser frig gang. Three minuets of insane confusion. We won the isk fight lost the field but had a great fracking time. BTW your wolf analogy only happens when folks think their 733T.

Telling ya bro you have been hanging in all the wrong places. Provi is way too cool and pretty much either match's your stated "wants" or proves your "answers" to not be as guaranteed as you think.

CVA FC's comments "don't worry about your ships we will get them blown up" and he ment it. I am always amazed to suvive a fleet of his, lol.

Anonymous said...

...continuing (Anon 18:38 – Steel H)
Hey I confess, I PVEd exclusively in WoW and didn’t like PvP in any game, even Starcraft, and never played pure PvP games. Still, after getting bored with Cata, I read about EVE and the first ice interdiction and was mesmerized by the concepts of sandbox and impact PvP content. So after my tutorial missions I was off to the ice belts in a Slasher and went on to bloody slaughters in the remaining interdiction and Hulkageddon V. Then I grinded forsaken hubs for sec and Tornado money and was on the first Burn Jita KM and many expensive freighters. Otherwise I fought in bloobfleets in underskilled Maels and Drakes, pressing the buttons FC was calling, sucking on the reimbursement tech-wallet and exploding horribly to bombers and tracking titans. When we went on “small gang PVP” corp roams we were merely hunting ratters and botengus and then bitched about how space is empty and how everyone safes up instantly – which is what I did too when some neut entered my fat ratting system. When we rarely ran into some other competent PVP gang in Curse or lowsec I had no clue what I was doing and we all had our asses handed to us.
All this was amazing, but what was amazing was the meta-context – being in a war, being in giant fleets, waking up at 3AM to bash structures, living out in a POS for days out of ammo, being part of impact singular events and so on. On the basic leave, yeah we were just killing a bunch of fat sheep and whining when the sheep weren’t coming out. If I had to fight only competent skilled opponents and make decisions for myself, I wouldn’t have bothered. I the end, event killing sheep got old as I started to see slowly that the emperor has no clothes. Other things didn’t help either, like getting a life, getting tired of missing fights because I was at work or sleeping, and the fact that as soon as I could fly a doctrine optimally, they’d change it.
Don’t worry Syncaine, EVE is still the best MMO ever made. But it wasn’t for me long term. If Cataclysm hadn’t sucked so badly, I’d probably still be there.

Anonymous said...

"This statement is obvious to everyone."

It really isn't unless you subscribe to a very narrow understanding of "keep[ing] the sheep around".

i.e. you might see Trammel as either a move to cater to the sheep (and that's the way "everyone" actually sees it) or as a move that enabled the sheep to leave Felucca (the view that you claim is "obvious top everyone").

I think the interpretation that UO died due to failing to keep the sheep around (on Trammel that is) is a very interesting one but it is hardly an obvious (or the only sensible) one.

nightgerbil said...

Anonymous said...
...continuing (Anon 18:38 – Steel H
13 December, 2013 20:03

You. Stop it. You make me want to play eve so bad. Its a terrible game with atrocious pve. Luckly I have, the perfect antidote to posts like yours that nearly had me download that game again!

Paul Dejean said...

There is some genuinely consensual PvP in lowsec.

Recently we traveled to fight brave newbies. The arrangement was each side could bring as many as they want, and we were only allowed to use T1 frigates.

They brought 20% more than our numbers, but we are able to win on account of our more finely honed composition and on the back of the superior piloting of our logistics anchor.

We went a couple of rounds. During the second round they scanned down and ganked our links. Such is eve.

Anonymous said...

another video to illustrate your words about "Good fights and honor PvP":