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Reichmar's Rant: For the love of PvP: Pt. 2
by Reichmar12, Member — Category: Editorials
Post #17064


The Gear Curve Debate and PvP.

Gear is always a BIG debate within the MMO crowd. Some feel as if there should be a gear curve -- that is -- my gear is better than yours because I did X more than you did. Others think gear is a barrier to entry, keeping the best items in the hands of a relatively small number of gamers who dedicate much more time than is possible for most players. Who's got it right? Is there even a right answer?

Lets be honest, we like getting cool gear. When you kill a boss with your friends, you get gear and you like that. When you do a hard or time-consuming quest, you get gear and you also like that. Then we get into PvP aaaaand *BOOM*, people suddenly start getting emotional. But before you think that I'm just tossing labels around, lets see how gear is handled in PvE.

Most contemporary MMOs have end-game PvE content that exists on a scale. You have one set of dungeons, for example, that are 'doable' with little effort the moment you hit the level cap. As you complete those, you are awarded loot (I'm going somewhere with this, just keep reading). That shiny new loot allows you to attempt more difficult dungeons which, in turn, award their own loot that's better than the last tier you went through. As the player progresses along this scale, they keep getting loot until they can then get into extra hard dungeons -- called "heroics" in the likes of WoW and GW2. The same progression scale occurs there and may lead to another tier of content (if the game supports it) called "raids". So we have a steady progression scale through which the player gains access to better and better quality equipment.

Now lets look at PvP. For the sake of familiarity, I'll use a currency system as an example. We just finished hitting the level cap, so we queue up for some instanced PvP. Then we queue for some more. And some more. And more still. While we win (or lose) each battle, we gain currency of some sort. After we get enough, we can buy something with that currency! So you buy a nice axe and queue again. After some time, you'll be able to afford a full set of gear. Now you can survive in PvP long enough to do.....whatever it is that you do. Depending on the game, there are tiers of rewards here as well. Pretty simple. Sounds good, right?

Here's the issue: in PvE, you're grinding NPC mobs for gear, in PvP you're grinding human players. When a new player starts raiding and when a seasoned player goes to clear a new raid, they aren't grinding each other (word choice.. I know) for gear. In PvP, however, that's exactly what happens. When you're facing a team with people better geared than yours is, you're gonna have a bad time. PvPers just deal with it and plow though, knowing full well that the roles will be switched at some point. Non-PvPers who want to start PvPing may get flustered and leave. Hell, even PvPers will rage out at some point and call it a night (I'll cop to this one).


In this sense, its rather understandable that some people get dissuaded from PvP -- especially if it isn't really their primary gig. Now games that make serious efforts into building a PvP system usually promote some type of "higher tier competition" -- such as ranked battlegrounds, small-scale arena matches, etc. This is where PvPers aim to end up. While some may find it enjoyable to kill people in lesser gear, PvPers (believe it or not) tend to prefer fighting people in their league. Its much more rewarding to squeak out a win against a really good team as opposed to stomping PUGs. The end result here is that entry-level PvP becomes the "heroic dungeon" of PvP content -- something that everyone has to do for gear before moving up to the big leagues. Competitive battlegrounds really have no place in this debate anyway, since everyone taking part ends up wearing nearly the same gear.

Some games have tried various approaches at softening that PvP entry barrier with mixed success. One example are daily/weekly quests. Tedious? Yeah, but they certainly help with your rate-of-currency-acquisition. Gear crossover is another method where you use your 1337 PvE gear to get your feet wet in PvP (some games allow you to turn in PvE currency for PvP gear too). What about crafting PvP gear? Yep, that's been done. It's not great, but better than wearing a paper bag.

So then, which camp has it right? Is gear too much of a barrier or is it a necessary reward? The answer is: (as much as it sounds like a copout) both. Gear tiers are certainly barriers in themselves. Assuming two equally skilled players, if one doesn't have gear, and the other does, the former's potential isn't as high as the latter's. It's not rocket science. Thus, there is an incentive to work at what you're wearing. Despite the barrier, we still need to get something for our time. No one dedicates time in a MMO for nothing. So we need gear, but gear poses a problem. We need a reward, but people complain if it gives an advantage over those without it.

What if gear isn't the reward? What if we earn new powerful skills instead? As much as I like the idea of horizontal progression, unlocking skills through PvP is really horizontal in name only. Giving players access to skills useful in PvP by PvPing is just like giving them a new sword. Is it as obvious as giant spiked shoulderpads of doom? No, not really. But the result is the same -- an advantage. You could argue that the skills shouldn't even be useful in PvP, but then what kind of reward is that? No one uses abilities that don't help them in PvP. No one. (if you do....we need to have a talk).

What if all rewards are purely cosmetic? Pimped-out armor is nice, don't get me wrong. But what good does a shiny cosmetic piece do if your opponents can run in wearing some obscure (or ridiculous looking) clothing and do just as well. Do you really feel special? I don't. Gear with a statistical advantage is imposing because you look at it and know what it does. You can pick out people on the battlefield and take note of who to avoid, or who to target if you're like me.

Therefore I believe that the optimal discussion to have is not whether a entry barrier should exist in PvP, but rather how much of a barrier it should be. Yes, this could get "mathy". What about making lower tiers of PvP gear easier to get for new players and higher tiers extremely difficult to earn? What about making the stat gap on gear slimmer between tiers so gear is still an advantage (and bad-ass looking), but not nearly enough to gimp an opponent? If these two things came true, you'd earn gear at much faster rates early on and have competitive stats, but you'll still know who amongst your foes is highly ranked and that he has a slight advantage over you (but nothing you can't overcome).

Now what if you combined that with a horizontal progression system? You have the ability to earn gear quickly to get competitive, work towards that high rank suit AND get new abilities, cosmetic options, mounts, etc. This is where my opinion happens to fall. I want my gear to mean something, it needs to be better than what I was wearing before I started PvPing -- but it doesn't need to leave everyone in the dust. This isn't vertical or horizontal; I suppose you could call it ... diagonal? Everyone would be happy! We'd all be able to enjoy PvP and discussion would revolve solely around tactics and strategy!

LOL no, it's the internet, who am I kidding?


What's your take on gear progression in PvP? Are you a stat-fiend? Horizontal or vertical? What about diagonal?


Next Week: The role of community in PvP and why ESO's three faction PvP makes rewards mportant and useless all at the same time.



The views expressed in this blog are those of Reichmar12 and do not represent the views of TESOF, Zenimax Online Studios or any of its subsidiaries
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Comments on Reichmar's Rant: For the love of PvP: Pt. 2
Post #17070
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I am a hardcore fan of the shallowest gear curve possible. One of the primary features of the single player games is that eventually, at a high enough skill, it doesn't really matter what material your armour is made out of, what's really important are the enchantments. I want people in PvP to appear in all types of lore-friendly armour, not just the super epic styles. I also hope they add the ability to dye or enamel your armour in different colours like they did in DAoC. Yes, every high lvl toon in DAoC was wearing the same epic armour/robes, but the variation of colour really helped distract from that.

But... I'd say those who like a steeper gear curve are almost certainly in the majority. They want gear to really mean something, and having something like an armour rating cap in Skyrim is practically an insult to them. As much as it seems to me that the game gets more deterministic with a steep gear curve (everyone using only a couple armour types), we really need to appease these people, because one of the most fundamental ideas within an RPG is loot.

Perhaps phasing is the answer. Not only could it separate players by level, but also by armour rating. I'm not sure how that would work, though. I only hope I'm not forced to use one particular set of armour because using it is the only way to compete.
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Post #17071
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no to diagonal. only horizontal.
everything else is bs.

i want more choices instead of less. i want my horizontal gear to be a tactical decision and not a better /worse say what you want about how people want rewards. these are still rewards. they can be flashy and shit. but i do not want any gear progression in PvP . at all.

equalize everything. the only thing different should be horizontal.

PvP and PvE are different. and while you can try to make them play the same, you cannot handle the progression the same. nobody wants a singleplayer expirience with no progression.
But in a multiplayer enviroment. having better stats then someone is not a good thing.

The only reason other games have it is, because its a part of the PvE system that they couldnt get rid off. its never intentional. no serious competetive PvP game has it. so why keep it? Just becuase its an MMO? i call bs on that.
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Post #17072
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The purely cosmetic reward is where GW2 got it wrong, IMO. So I am definitely with you in not wanting that.

Not gonna lie, I think SWTOR got this right until they removed Valor restrictions on the harder-to-earn gear. There were pieces that were pretty easy to get (within a week or so of PvP) that gave a competitive baseline in PvP. Then, the next tier of gear took a couple weeks to get and the final available tier took a couple months or so. But even the difference between the first and last tiers was not so much that it was impossible to have balanced combat (aka I support a pretty shallow curve here). They also allowed crossover from PvE gear, which is what I used until I got the higher end PvP gear.

The cosmetic side of things was cool as well, with the ability to get different mounts based on your PvP rank. One thing that was great about this was being able to use the PvP cosmetic mounts outside of PvP. It made people who didn't PvP, but thought the mount was cool, look into PvPing.

I 100% think a barrier should be there, but it should be minimal. Another way to get around it is to travel with a partner or a guild or even just walk near random people to avoid getting ganked by someone who is decked out. Even if your opponent has the best gear, if you have numbers you will prevail (unless you're terribad... but then why are we having this discussion?). Some people won't like having to travel in groups because they want to be a badass solo... this is an MMO, you can't be the best at everything, sorry. If you want to succeed in PvP, you need strategy - and having a group is a good strategy if you're undergeared.

Another reward for PvPing could be consumables maybe? Using something to boost your stats for 2 minutes that will put you in the same playing field as a highly geared person would help people get in to competitive PvP as long as the consumables weren't terribly expensive. After a while, it would be better to save up and get the gear - but starting out it would be a good way to gain some momentum.

(December 10th 2012 01:40 PM)Sordak Wrote:  no to diagonal. only horizontal.
everything else is bs.

Most of your posts are bs, Sordak. If you don't have vertical movement then there is nothing to aspire to in a long-term sense. Competitive players (read: PvPers) want to be better than others and they want others to know it - that's what vertical progression achieves.
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Post #17077
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While I do prefer rather low gearing curve, there must be progress for me. Gear progress always attracted me most in RPGs, ever since Might and Magic 6 .. and well thats quite a few years hehe

Nonexistant gearing curve is one of the reasons I quit GW2 after 2 months playing
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(December 10th 2012 01:40 PM)Nautalus Nimbus Wrote:  The purely cosmetic reward is where GW2 got it wrong, IMO. So I am definitely with you in not wanting that.

Not gonna lie, I think SWTOR got this right until they removed Valor restrictions on the harder-to-earn gear. There were pieces that were pretty easy to get (within a week or so of PvP) that gave a competitive baseline in PvP. Then, the next tier of gear took a couple weeks to get and the final available tier took a couple months or so. But even the difference between the first and last tiers was not so much that it was impossible to have balanced combat (aka I support a pretty shallow curve here). They also allowed crossover from PvE gear, which is what I used until I got the higher end PvP gear.

The cosmetic side of things was cool as well, with the ability to get different mounts based on your PvP rank. One thing that was great about this was being able to use the PvP cosmetic mounts outside of PvP. It made people who didn't PvP, but thought the mount was cool, look into PvPing.

I 100% think a barrier should be there, but it should be minimal. Another way to get around it is to travel with a partner or a guild or even just walk near random people to avoid getting ganked by someone who is decked out. Even if your opponent has the best gear, if you have numbers you will prevail (unless you're terribad... but then why are we having this discussion?). Some people won't like having to travel in groups because they want to be a badass solo... this is an MMO, you can't be the best at everything, sorry. If you want to succeed in PvP, you need strategy - and having a group is a good strategy if you're undergeared.

Another reward for PvPing could be consumables maybe? Using something to boost your stats for 2 minutes that will put you in the same playing field as a highly geared person would help people get in to competitive PvP as long as the consumables weren't terribly expensive. After a while, it would be better to save up and get the gear - but starting out it would be a good way to gain some momentum.

(December 10th 2012 01:40 PM)Sordak Wrote:  no to diagonal. only horizontal.
everything else is bs.

Most of your posts are bs, Sordak. If you don't have vertical movement then there is nothing to aspire to in a long-term sense. Competitive players (read: PvPers) want to be better than others and they want others to know it - that's what vertical progression achieves.

no most of my posts are not bs. most of my posts are pretty damn good. but that post of you is bs.

vertical progression makes others to know you are better. no. it makes others know you have an unfair advantage.
and i my friend am a competetive player and i dont give a flyign fuck about that.

i give a fuck about a challenge, and beating it.
I want to be matched with an oponent that is an equal to me. and can harm me.
I dont want to be better because i spend more time grinding. Because if you try to tell me that PvP gear is any indication of skill ill just point you towards wow and ask you "realy?"

Not to mention your idea of balancing out an unfair fight with numbers (ie more unfair stuff).
Open world pvp will never be fair in terms of numbers and situations. i know that. but the balancing should always try to achieve the highest possible fairness.
and traveling with a zerg is probably the WORST advice you can give to a newbie.

and as i said before. dont you dare mix up pve with pvp. I see why you quite GW2 rage. But thats pve. there is no gear progression that makes PvE boring.
But if you play PvP for the gear progression you probably arent playing the game mode you realy want to be playing...
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Post #17100
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(December 10th 2012 02:11 PM)Sordak Wrote:  no most of my posts are not bs. most of my posts are pretty damn good. but that post of you is bs.

vertical progression makes others to know you are better. no. it makes others know you have an unfair advantage.
and i my friend am a competetive player and i dont give a flyign fuck about that.

You also don't give a flyign fuck about grammar or spelling. Sorry, I didn't realize "egotistical troll" was spelled "competetive player".

An unfair (read: slight upper-hand) advantage that they can also achieve. You act like PvP gear is the end-all-be-all or an iwin button. I said I was for a shallow difference.

(December 10th 2012 02:11 PM)Sordak Wrote:  i give a fuck about a challenge, and beating it.
I want to be matched with an oponent that is an equal to me. and can harm me.
I dont want to be better because i spend more time grinding. Because if you try to tell me that PvP gear is any indication of skill ill just point you towards wow and ask you "realy?"

I don't think PvP gear is an indication of skill, that's not why I think it should be included. I think it should be included as an incentive or a goal to work towards. Again, a shallow difference between having gear and not having gear wouldn't match you up with opponents who cannot harm you.

(December 10th 2012 02:11 PM)Sordak Wrote:  Not to mention your idea of balancing out an unfair fight with numbers (ie more unfair stuff).
Open world pvp will never be fair in terms of numbers and situations. i know that. but the balancing should always try to achieve the highest possible fairness.
and traveling with a zerg is probably the WORST advice you can give to a newbie.

You say: Open world PvP will never be fair. And then you get mad about having unfair fights? I don't know why I feed trolls, all they do is shit.

I didn't suggest traveling with a zerg, I suggested a partner or a group of people at most. I don't see how suggesting that a new player find help is bad advice. Regardless of gear, getting stomped into the ground isn't the best way to learn how to PvP. Watching a teammate fight or fighting with a teammate, that's constructive.

(December 10th 2012 02:11 PM)Sordak Wrote:  and as i said before. dont you dare mix up pve with pvp. I see why you quite GW2 rage. But thats pve.

I can't even tell what this means. It's like your quality of communication degraded the longer you typed.

(December 10th 2012 02:11 PM)Sordak Wrote:  But if you play PvP for the gear progression you probably arent playing the game mode you realy want to be playing...

Finally, something I agree with. It doesn't apply to me though. Yes, I want gear as an incentive. But I've said in other posts that you should also have titles, abilities, cosmetic items, etc. (the horizontal part). But I still think you need vertical progression to really make it seem worthwhile. Perhaps, instead of gear, it should be ranked matches/ranked campaigns.
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Post #17111
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I think one really important (and confirmed) features of TESO that belongs in this article is the fact that there will be no separate gear progression between PvE and PvP in the game. As Matt Firor puts it, "gear is gear", and this elimination of a prerequisite "PvP stat" has massive implications for gameplay and gear progression.

Personally, it's one of my absolute favorite features that ZeniMax is pushing, I've hated the pvp stat craze since it started in WoW and detest how such systems force you to choose on which facet of the game to devote your focus.
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Post #17113
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(December 10th 2012 04:36 PM)Atropos Wrote:  I think one really important (and confirmed) features of TESO that belongs in this article is the fact that there will be no separate gear progression between PvE and PvP in the game. As Matt Firor puts it, "gear is gear", and this elimination of a prerequisite "PvP stat" has massive implications for gameplay and gear progression.

Personally, it's one of my absolute favorite features that ZeniMax is pushing, I've hated the pvp stat craze since it started in WoW and detest how such systems force you to choose on which facet of the game to devote your focus.

Agreed. Its something that I'm looking forward to a lot, to be quite honest. The ability to play the game how you want, and not be at a particular disadvantage is quite enticing.

Besides, PvP stats in WoW were created to compensate for power creep. The moment they were installed, they put up an artificial barrier in the game -- keeping raiders on the far side.

I was planning on discussing it in a later article; one more tailored to ESO. I haven't begun talking about everything in ESO that is making my mouth water...
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Post #17114
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(December 10th 2012 04:03 PM)Nautalus Nimbus Wrote:  snip

i supose you like feeling smart about the nonsense you write. but actually not understanding someone is not an actual argument, its an inability and you should not take any pride in it.
To further elaborate on the pointlessness of your post. you cirticise me for saying that open world pvp will never be fair, yet demand balance.
When in the same sentance, i explained that, while balance can never be fully achieved. it should be something to aspire to.

You cannot make it fully based on skill, that is true, but you can fuck it up even more by adding a vertical gear progression that kicks personal skill in the nuts. That doesnt make the situation i explained better, it makes it worse.

And then you bite yourself in the arse. As you have found out by now. its "learning" the pvp, not grinding.
Wich is my point. Its about actually getting better at it, not about playing it for hours, meaninglessly, but actually spending a thought on it. wich yet again reinforces my post.

But even apart from these very obvious to point out flaws in your post. i can also point you towards a popular saying "if you cant defeat his argument, correct his grammar" it holds very true.
English is by far not my first language and im actually trying to articulate myself to a level that is on par with native speakers. but that doesnt always work out, because i am, as said, not a native speaker.
But if you want to be cocky about it we can continue to talk in german if that makes you feel better.
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