Lets Fix Competitive PvP Gaming
Over the last few weeks I have been looking at a number of games and most of them have one thing in common, they have an open competitive PVP system. Now what I mean by that is that players are dropped into a game world with other players, chosen mostly at random and set at each other. Now on the surface this sounds like it could be really cool, but then reality sets in and for the majority of players it is a time of pure pain.
Now yes I know I am going to soon hear the so called elite players say I am whining but please hear me out because the current system used by these games hurts not just the new players, but the veterans and the game company. I will not however make this a post about my whining about the system but will actually offer a way to fix it at the end.
Of the various types of games that have these issues I will focus on the FPS games mostly but lets do it without names, after all they all use pretty much the same formula.
Here is the scenario we see most often. A player gets attracted to the game because his buddies say it is so much fun. He fires up the game and then proceeds to spend the next 20 hours to play time being killed before he ever gets to really see the game. The reason he is dying so fast is because other players with more time in the game have found a spot to shoot him before he can really react, the term used to be called spawn camping and today it is called tactics. Another term we had for it back in the day was griefing.
Now lets be real this is just not fun for the new player. The so called “elite’ players will tell you to suck it up and learn how to play. That all sounds good but lets be real for a moment, the issue is not learning how to “play” but being willing to suffer through it. I mean seriously how are you not learning when you die within seconds of starting the game? This leads to new player frustration and in the end a lose of a pretty good segment of players. Hence how the current system hurts the new players, by making something that should be fun actually be a lesson in futility and pain.
However the damage does not stop there it also hurts the game companies. If your new player base is not having fun then they do not keep playing. If your game is reliant on a large player base to make money, as games using the F2P model are, then you have hurt your bottom line and lets be real how long before players just do not even try your games if they all start the same?
Finally the so called “elite” get hurt. You see the systems these games all share give a stat that is publically shown but that stat does nothing but give raw numbers. The result is a large group of griefers figure out that if they can kill 100 noobs and never die they will soon be at the top of the stat chart and truly be “l33t”. This means the real players, the ones that work hard and play against others with skill are never rewarded and their frustration level grows and their play numbers shrink. Also hurting these elite players is the fact that with the player base not expanding in the upper levels the game becomes literally the same thing with the same people day after day and boredom sets in.
As you can see everyone is hurt in the end. How do we fix this? The answer to this can actually be found in the very system a lot of the FPS online games use, the server system.
You see to split the load the game systems use different servers to ensure that players have a chance to spread out more and thus keep server overload to a minimum. This same server system could be used to fix the issue I am discussing. We combine the server system with a skill level system using the very stats the games are collecting.
Here is how I envision this working. New players log onto the game and begin play. As they play their stats are examined by the game system using criteria ranging from play stats to play time. Once the criteria feels they have hit a new tier of skill the next time they log in the game will put them on the next “level” server set. By doing this people that try to hunt down noobs will find themselves quickly moving up the server ranks and forced to play skilled players. Skilled players will find themselves facing only other skilled players and new players will have a chance to learn the game in an environment that allows them to actually face people of nearly the same skill level.
This system will work if the game companies do NOT allow backwards progression or cross over. That means once you move up a server you are done. Also once your account moves up a server any new toon you choose to create starts at only one server level lower than your current server level. This keeps griefers from going back to easily grief.
This idea is simple, easy to implement and very workable. It is actually used in a lot of the gaming world. For example you do not see a little league pitcher taking on major leaguers. You see it in Chess, racing and a many other competitive activities.
So while an open competitive PVP system is a great idea the reality of it is not great for gamers, for most it is just not fun. However with a little tweaking we could not only make it more fun but actually make it more competitive as well.
Just a little food for thought.