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Old 02-05-2008, 07:01 PM   #1
Rolrain
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PvP: Leveraging other, established, PvP systems

This is gonna be a little lengthy, I'm sorry.

Reading a lot of discussion about PvP comabat systems, I noticed that games featuring successful PvP systems are very rare. By "succesful" I mean engaging, deep and fun. Another thing I noticed, when talking about PvP someone often comes up with some analogy regarding chess.

After seeing what has been done in PuzzleQuest (a blend between Bejeweled and a single-player RPG, where all fighting between the opponents happen over a Bejeweled board where players play one against the other, with spells altering the board), and how enthusiastical have been its reviews, I started wondering if the same concept could be applied to the MMO* / MU* world.

For the sake of the argument, let's suppose to have a full MMO, with its own ambientation, its own story arc, cosmogenesys, realms, cities, guilds, its own quests and everything. Now let's suppose that this game uses one of the most succesful "fighting" systems ever invented for all its PvP and PvE combats: chess. Let's suppose all combats happen as Blitz chess games, 5 or 10 min per player. Now, I'm not saying chess would be the perfect choice for this, what I'm interested in is exploring the possibilities such a scenario would give to game designers and players. Chess is just an example, and could be replaced with Go, some chess variant (maybe Crazyhouse, with Bughouse for 2v2 fighting? That would be fun) or some other custom board-type game purposely created.

The first striking consequence of this approach would be that all combat skills the player develops are his own, and not skills of the character played. If he spends 2 years playing and getting better and better, even his char death could not take away the skills he (the player) has developed. "Grinding" would be real training (maybe some thematic games against some Master-Bot in some kind of dojo, and Bot skill level would approximately match the one of the player) and thus it would never feel pointless.

PvE could be encouraged by making the player gain some very very rare special playing skills (some game modifier like the cards in Knightmare chess?) or by giving some kind of advantage (points?) to the city and/or family the player belongs to.

Many vs Many (city vs city?) combat could be accomplished ith some kind of cooperative play, where the match between the two factions would happen on one single board and players could kibitz and then vote their preferred move, maybe out of three, chosen by 3 "champs" of the realm (time controls would be a little slower in this case, of course).

Levels could be based on some kind of ELO, and some places/quests could be disclosed only to players above (or below) some limit.

Of course I see problems with all this, for example:

- Cheating: there will be the same problems all online chess/checkers/... servers have, people using computers to play. This can be dealt the same (painful) way these problems are dealt in chess servers. It's a problem, but I do not think it would be a show-stopper. Cheating could be somewhat limited by using some non standard game like some exotic (but balanced and fun) chess variant, some board game created ad hoc, or some game in which computers are not stronger than humans.
- It would be difficult to armonize the combat system with the game environment, it should be made a "premise" of the game. (I mean, if I play PuzzleQuest I know I have to play puzzles to defeat the monsters. It's a premise, I do not question it)
- If some "standard" boardgame is used, that could restrict the potential gamebase to players of that chosen game. If some non-standard boardgame is used, it HAS to be balanced, deep, fun and somewhat easy to pick up. And creating such a game from scratch is not easy, of course.
- You will need to find a way to motivate players to play PvE or to engage some kind of quest not involving PvP. Before I mentioned the possibility of some "special ability" that can be used in PvP, a la Knightmare Chess. There could be balancing problems, of course.
- PvP is good, but what about PvE?

I know all this could turn up to be some kind of chess-server on steroids, nonetheless the idea fascinates me. What do you think about it? Could attaching chess to a RPG be appealing for the regular player? Could attaching RPG to chess be appealing for the regular internet Chess player (if we choose chess as a combat system, of course).

Thanks
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Old 02-06-2008, 12:20 PM   #2
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Re: PvP: Leveraging other, established, PvP systems

I have always been a huge fan of the idea of mini-game centered PVP. I believe that you if you take a look at some text-based pvp games, you will see that this has been done with high success. The old, dying Clandestine MUD made great use of a mixture between familiar "cast&kill" style MUD pvp, in addition with a plethora of mini-games to enhance the pvp situation. Also, KaVir's Godwars2's combat system plays very much like a chess game, without removing its players from the immediate feel of an MMO. Most notably, games like Puzzle Pirates on the graphical side have proven that an entire MMO can be centered around popular puzzle minigames set to a player-versus-player backdrop.

The best thing I can tell you to take a look at is this game - www.ringsofhonor.org and Welcome! :: Red Dragon Inn

This game has been around since the very beginning of AOL, has housed many many thousands of text rpgers, and blends open forum/chat roleplaying with a pvp system that is matrix-based, meaning that it is a much more complicated version of rock-paper-scissors. The combat matrix itself is very advanced and they offer three "Arenas" of pvp, as well as very sports-like team dueling leagues such as TDL 525 and Iron Fists! An Unarmed Team-Combat League .

This is the most successful "user-skill" text MMO that I have ever personally encountered, and I have found success implementing their pvp system as mini-games on games like Clandestine MUD. So whether or not your experiment ends up working, introducing "mini-games" is always a huge benefit to a MUD, as you want as many facets for pvp, competition, and fun that you can acquire when running a MUD.
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Old 02-07-2008, 09:27 AM   #3
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Re: PvP: Leveraging other, established, PvP systems

I'm just curious as to what you personally consider "mini games"?
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Old 02-07-2008, 11:59 AM   #4
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Re: PvP: Leveraging other, established, PvP systems

Thanks for your reply.

I'm aware of the interesting PvP system featured by GodwarsII. In fact it was by observing that one game that I started thinking about "pushing it all the way" towards a full board-game experience, and started wondering what could be the ideal kind of "system" that could be incorporated in a MMO.

Collectible Card Games were one of the first thoughts, as I see a lot of potential there: trading btw players, easily extendible game, possibility (if you ever want, of course) to make ppl pay for perks without distorting the gameplay, or making the player "gain" useful things (cards) by making him completing quests. And these are just the first that come to mind.

I think CCG are a very good candidate, but I think alsto they lack some of the features I'd like to see in a game, as they do not need the player to improve himself to play better (or maybe they do, but in a very limited way: improving is done by getting better cards), they are not very strategic (the building of the deck is the only strategic moment, while the rest of the play is almost all tactics). To make it short: I do not think they are very deep games, the kind that could engage players for years.

Chess (or Go, or others) on the other hand have very interesting features: they have rock solid gameplay, they are very deep, very strategic AND tactical, they are well known and much played worldwide, and provide always to every player room for personal improvement, but can be a little trickier to adapt to a MMO.

Mixing CCG and "traditional" BG could be interesting (as I mentioned in my previous post something to take inspiration from already exists), but this needs a lot of thinking and balancing, and the resulting dish could taste worse than the original ingredients.

While I'll keep on thinking about it, I'll take a look to ClandestineMUD, as I'm curious to see how you guys coped with the integration between the different parts of your MMO, and what are the mini-games players can play.
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Old 02-07-2008, 02:13 PM   #5
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Re: PvP: Leveraging other, established, PvP systems

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolrain View Post
I'm aware of the interesting PvP system featured by GodwarsII. In fact it was by observing that one game that I started thinking about "pushing it all the way" towards a full board-game experience, and started wondering what could be the ideal kind of "system" that could be incorporated in a MMO.
Did you take a look at the "War" mini-game as well? It was originally based on poker (as I discussed on MudLab a couple of years ago) but has undergone a lot of changes, making it far less luck-oriented. The nice thing about it is that everyone begins every game on equal footing, without carrying anything over from previous games, so it's based entirely on player skill (combined with a little luck).
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Old 02-07-2008, 02:17 PM   #6
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Re: PvP: Leveraging other, established, PvP systems

Well, mini-games to me, as a long time RPG player in general, is a competitive or game function that solves something besides direct typical gameplay. It's a change of gameplay in an isolated way. For instance, Clandestine offers(ed) a casino with holdem, stud, slot machines, roulette, and other such games. Freeze-tag is a game that is implemented in different ways to many MUDs that creates a pvp environment with a different rule-set. Duel of Swords (taken from www.ringsofhonor.org 's system of pvp) creates a round-based pvp system that we used to create a mini-game. Our system of mining materials, forging ore, creating weapons or equipment from materials gained from questing and mining had "gameplay" mechanisms that forced two players to combine efforts to balance the equipment they were creating in real-time. We had temple strongholds created for a mini-game involving invasion of other enemy player-ran temples, in an effort to steal artifacts to gain the power of other Gods temporarily. All of these things and other things, we used mini-games to incorperate non-direct gameplay with the standard MUD gameplay.

I think that your best bet, though, if you wish to avoid bots and cheating, would be to create your own game. I always thought that Duel of Swords(or Fists or Magic, all running on different "matrices", with different rules and advancement rules) could work in real-time with minor modifications that would make pvp be entirely skill oriented with a tier-like system that is vaguely reminiscent of Godwars. Another MUD I worked on included a card collecting/fighting game, despite being set in a post apocalyptic, zombie infested gun-toting future. I found that the card game, while incredibly well conceived, simply removed the players too much from the atmosphere of the MUD itself to be much of a draw to the players. On Clandestine, we actually implemented a few board-games directly as mini-games too (chess & checkers), but the players rarely ever used the engine that had a fair amount of time spent on creating those board games.

You could approach the creation of a board-game like pvp system that borrows themes or environment from games like Final Fantasy Tactics or Guild Wars. FFTactics is something most people here probably have played, but Guild Wars has solo vs solo pvp called "Hero Battles", in which each player micromanages their own character and three AI character that they can give orders to (or allow them to act on their own AI), in an effort to gain control and hold control of various map points that give bonuses to combat when held and controlled. It then becomes a race for points, points based on the number of kills on each side in combination with the bonuses gained from controlling geographical points on the map.

If you created a MUD where your players played a gangleader or general of some sort, then any pvp or pve could go that route, though you would have to conceive of a "board game" type setting, as well as find a way to handle group vs group pvp for more than two players. Just a few ideas, but keep trucking - what you are working on is something that I've hoped a MUD would do, and do very well, for a long time.
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