I’d like to offer a bit of a different take on things surrounding the constant discord and forum battle between those who think the game is primarily a PvP game and those who argue it is primarily PvE/exploration-based. While that debate will go on as long as the game has functioning servers, I am sure, there are bigger things at play that affect everyone across the board, whether you realize in your gameplay experience or not.
The biggest issue facing the game right now is performance. PvP balance has little to do with it, as long as the game exists the way it currently does. New guns, reviver changes, salvage mechanics…. at the end of the day these are things that can help defenders, perhaps, but they will not save many ships once PvPers establish our workarounds and adapt our styles of play. If you want to help with PvP balance, “griefing,” or whatever you want to call it, the lag and issues associated with high speed ships in combat against each other have to be the first priority.
Believe it or not, most PvPers want a good, tense, and fair fight. Win or lose, these are the most fun. We want a good run for our money, and we want to fight against those worth their salt. There are certainly exceptions (i.e. people who go into any player interaction with the expectation that for all they know, the opposition could be budding PvPers who will share mutual respect while fighting tooth and nail to the bitter end, those who want to snipe solo players so they can bolster their own egos, etc.), but most want the thrill. We want the threat of loss. And we want to win against those who not only simply stand a chance, but will create odds stacked against us and make the victory even sweeter and more rewarding.
But it isn’t that simple. In the last few months, the playability of the game has gotten worse and worse. This is a huge part of people’s reasons for leaving the game, in addition to the impending wipe, etc. The impact of this is two-fold: high-speed PvP creates an unbelievable amount of issues these days, on top of only fighting the same people time and time again. As much as we love this game, playing the way we used to, and playing the way we want to is nigh impossible now. And when we do play this way against each other, it is often a miserable experience. This drives us away from each other.
We are not going to stop playing the way we play. We love to sink ships, and we constantly alter our strategies to improve and better meet our goals, while creating a greater challenge for others like us. Firing a cannon and landing hits is wonderful. Swinging around a ship and timing the break just right to live through the pulse is incredibly satisfying. Watching a ship sink after an hour of explosions and butt-puckery is beautiful. We love what we do, and we are not going to stop, as long as PvP is possible in this game. Changes to the dynamics of PvP interactions may help to some degree, but in the end, they will largely leave the situation for explorers unchanged. Sinking ships is what we do, and it our primary goal. If we want to, we will find a way. There are two possibilities in my mind when it comes to tilting the scales towards a more balanced state.
1) One can, as Bossa have alluded to previously, incentivize PvPers to participate in certain areas. I do not know what this looks like and don’t have many suggestions here, because there’s really nothing more rewarding than sending a ship down. We will not likely stick around for territory control when there are other ships to pursue. The reward will have to be pretty great to localize us to certain places, especially if that means spending more time on the ground.
2) The lag and core issues facing PvPers can be the primary focus of improvements. When fighting each other in the current state, it has become almost painful to do. We spend more time trying to simply load in on the ship than we do damaging the enemy. Some of the bugs make this style of play miserable and without fun for either or any party. Because of this, we are driven towards others.
Because of the core issues, it is not only easier, but it is truly more enjoyable to sink ships that do not cause the same problems. The biggest thing standing in the way of PvP balance is the game itself. Because the game limits our primary style of play, everyone sees a cost – PvPers and PvEers alike. Fixing this is the biggest stride towards “balance” you will find in the near future.
Performance is certainly one aspect of optimizing the game for PVP rebalances. Is performance the only thing causing unhappiness and general apathy towards the state of PVP in the game? No. Many other balance issues need to be addressed and mechanical changes made to satisfy the player base even after performance is solved. (Things like reviver changes, further defensive advantages, ships being much harder to sink, etc). These have been discussed by a good chunk of the community almost nonstop over the past few months on the discord as you know.
While I agree that performance is certainly a big step to the games improvement overall, and a right step for balancing PVP to the benefit of player base activity, it’s not the whole story. This game in stable state still very much needs to work out problems which are causing people to quit or leave until the PVP situation reaches a more balanced state. One without the other is useless.
On a separate note though I think you’re right that pve players and PVP need to reach across the aisle more to one another and work together. Is there a pirate crew going around sinking T1 noobs constantly? Contact another PVP crew that you know doesn’t do this and have them hunt the clubber crew. That kind of activity promoted community togetherness and sandbox immersion solutions that the devs want. A sort of proto-bounty system. There doesn’t need to be such a big divide between the player base over different content because PVP and pve are both here to stay. Let’s make them work together, not against each other.
Good post overall, I agree and disagree somewhat as always, but I think we can see logic in one another’s points too.
I think this is part of why we’re getting a new map when we are: it is required to fix at least some of the known issues that are causing lag spikes. 0.1.5 also included analytics to help isolate the causes of client freeze. Bossa knows the the fundamental mechanics of the game need work. That’s why they stopped calling it a closed beta and went with “pre-early access.”
I think Bossa has been as clear as day on the issue: its a PVP game with PVE elements. From their perspective that doesn’t mean that the game is about sinking each other or stealing from each other just that to main antagonists and change agents in the game are going to be other players. HOW we play against or cooperate with other players is up to us. If I need repair iron and I make an emergency stop at an island that has already be harvested out… that’s PVP even if I never run into the player that got there before me. Mantas and Thuntomites help give each biome a different flavor but they’ll never be, and were never meant to be, the whole point of the game.
Regardless of play style, the bugs affect everyone. Top tier combat oriented players tend to have the highest stake and the worst losses to the bugs but ALL of us have lost ships and mats to the bugs in the game. I’ve only been in a handful of battles and only lost a couple ships to them. I’ve lost FAR more to bugs, freezes, and disconnects than to other players. So much so that losing things to other players is sort of refreshing.
Right now I will probably only play for the beginning of server launches. As that was when people were actually social, willing to trade, and trade actually felt like good gameplay. Though I reckon the server launch phase will be shorter this time around as PvP players pew everything that moves sooner this time around (with new knowledge, and in search of new streaming ad pennies).
To be honest outside of PvP there are only interesting mechanics, but there is nothing really compelling (Like redstone, contactor logic, reasonable puzzles, and similar). For someone that likes the PvP, it’s probably compelling enough though. but to someone that wants to log in craft and explore like the game was advertised as on steam, the devs have game mechanics signalling that it’s not the real mechanic they’re aiming for.
Also stop with the silly “It’s a PvP game, not PvE game”. It’s advertised as an exploration and building game. That has social interaction (including PvP), where they want reputation to follow you. There are some really good hooks that are already in the game that has nonPvP interaction as being really strong (temporary advancement with putting blueprints in assemblers, rarities to encourage trade, sharing flight paths so you don’t walk over some ones PvE loot path, and similar), and those hooks really need to be built upon so that they actually matter late game.
In order with the steam page AD video:
Seriously the first thing mentioned is player made islands to explore, followed by emphasis on that, and then MMO Sandbox (PvP maybe but not always), own objective, the awesome grappling hook, tree physics, ship design, physics of ship design, more on ship design, treatingg threat of players and animals as equal, calling the player a nomad (NOT murder hobo, not survivor, or something else that implies more violence), lost tech, gather resources, lightly covers difficulty of keeping ship repaired/fueled (both of which aren’t fully implemented yet)…. Frankly the video makes it look like PvP isn’t a part of the core gameloop, but rather a supporting mechanic of some kind, and actually puts some pretty strong emphasis that you can get LOTS of players in the same area and LOTS of ships in the same area without conflict.
Right now PvP have made a darn big mess of the game since the mechanic for actually making fuel doesn’t exist yet (it’s basically a free action right now), and duping mechanics (looting dupers) have made it too easy to play as a PvP only person. Basically some of the design “limiters” to high risk gameplay just haven’t existed in this iteration of beta because of how unimplemented, unbalanced, and buggy it has been.
Not silly, brah: its how the devs themselves describe it when asked. I’m apparently not explaining well enough why this makes sense with the marketing materials that says its an exploration game. Let me try a different tack on it.
From the point of view of the game makers PVE means that the devs make the content that the players interact with. PVP means that players make the content that other players interact with – be it exploring, trading, running or fighting. Since its a sandbox the players get to chose how they behave. PVP doesn’t have to mean the only thing to do is kill everything on sight. Why does everyone assume that’s what PVP means?
So its a PVP game with PVE elements.
The technical issues will get resolved so what is there to worry about? As long as we give the devs feedback they will get on it and make it right. Right now there is going to be a lot of take 1 step back then 2 forwards. We are stuck in the middle of Beta and there is a lot of bugs and chinks to work out, this will play out for months to come. I see a Q4 2018 full release by then there will be a stable smooth game.
About PvP balance? I think a lot of it will come down to the environment. The size of the skies is the primary arbitrator of PvP balance between those that want to fight and those that don’t. The first solution of places where picking a fight is more common is the likely compromise to both halves of the player base, the hawks and the doves. The hawks want to battle it out then they have places they know they can patrol to encounter other hawks and have it out. To foster such an environment you will need incentives which basically means alliances and their turf battles. This means we will need turf worth taking and defending. Enough said, I can go on about this.
When it comes to encounters the defender does need a small advantage only because the attacker will have the intiative to balance things out. Escaping needs to always be a possibility but it can’t be the answer to everything, sometimes you just got to eat it. Getting this balanced will be important. A solution can be cannon and armor ratings. The more cannons and armor you got the heavier you are which means your basically flagged yourself for PvP because you made your ship “catchable” but those who can catch you better be prepared for a fight. It’s more complicated then this but it’s an idea in the right direction.
I think just looking at the steam page video for the game or any one source of Bossa’s marketing doesn’t stand as an accurate representation. For one, you’re talking about a game that is still in development, so not only has the game changed since the alpha(?) footage used in that video, but also the “voice” used to describe the game. The brand of this hasn’t developed the consistency and clarity that you can expect once it’s closer to full release.
You can find many examples of where you can cherry pick a perceived prioritization of one aspect over another in the game.
Take a quick look at the website game Overview page:
PVP is brought up before exploration and the player-made universe. It prominently mentions player interaction, conflicts, building battle worthy ships and more directly, the actual statement of “Freeform Cooperation & PVP”. Note that cooperation doesn’t mean PVE.
Going even further, in the blog posts, I looked at the “UPCOMING PVP FEATURES AND ADJUSTMENTS” post and I could argue that the second sentence clears the debate:
“First things first, Worlds Adrift is a PvP game, and while we’ve got a lot of PvE content planned, we always want PvP to be a major part of the game.”
That doesn’t mean I think the game is meant to be played by everyone with an intense PVP focus, but you can’t deny it as a core part of the experience, or claim that it’s what drives players away. A poorly functioning game with unbalanced PVP and poor player education can definitely drive players away though. It is in that context that I agree with Snappy. I agree with Snappy because focusing on improving performance will help to balance PVP. Fixing bugs will help to balance PVP. Additionally, educating new players will also balance pvp.
I don’t think that players need their hands held that much, but when there are bugs that the more regular playerbase is aware of only through experience, then I would argue that player education could be an important response until the bugs are fixed. I wonder how many ships would have been saved and players kept, had a notification on the main menu popped up telling new players that “bubbling up” on your helm makes you not take bullet damage most of the time. I consider this a PVP related bug.
Balancing PVP means the average and new players will have a better chance in engagements, and thus they will have a better time.
To clarify, I’m not denying the “PVE” sides of the game exist, but that in the vein of “reaching across the aisle”, stop reducing the game to one of two dualities, and accept the need to focus on PVP elements and performance before you get too caught up in furniture or sky whales.
I’m a video maker and I wholeheartedly agree that the trailer vids don’t accurately portray the game as it is or as the devs currently speak about it.
It is very accurate in some ways but you wouldn’t know it until after playing the game for a good long while. As such it is ineffective for informing new players what the game is like and can easily be setting people up for disappointment.
– Almost every frame has multiple people in it, often WAY more people than usually cooperate in a given team. So where does anyone get the idea that this is an idyllic solo player game?
– There are moments of ship to ship combat but the soundtrack and narration don’t support it much. The video also can’t convey how much most players/crews lose when their ship is sunk or the amount of grinding that goes into making a good ship.
I think that the trailer should start like the current one does but get increasingly more violent with quicker cuts, ending with a huge ship sinking during combat in a storm wall with a scream in the background, player falling into the void and an explosive sound at quick cut to black… then finish with the trailing end of the idyllic music as we fade back in on someone hoisting sail on a small recovery ship and drifting off into the sunset.
I can understand why they aren’t putting the time into redoing the trailer videos at the moment, though. My guess is that they’ll get to that either for open beta or for release.
They should really just describe it as yet another base building open world PVP games like rust but instead of bases you build airships and they will stop all the confusion and people like myself might buy it to try and then drop it after getting bored of the crafting and building.
So you mean to tell me that marketing materials may not accurately portray the product itself!?!?!?
Well this is a first…
Next thing you’re going to tell me the pills I bought through my email aren’t going to increase the size of my…..ego.
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