Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Problem with WAR's End Game

One of the most widely discussed issues with WAR is it's end game. The basic premise is one side defeats the other and captures their city. The actual city siege mechanics is another story, but so far this concept has not worked well. One side has to lose, constantly, for the other side to win.

This direct conflict is the core of the problem. A PvP MMO must strive for a balanced population. Without one the game just isn't fun for either side. If both sides are equal, then it is unlikely that one side can dominate the other. WAR's problem is that the end game needs to have that disparity.

The more balanced the game becomes, the less likely it is for the end game to occur. This seems like a fundamental design flaw that WAR has been built around. When the game becomes a stalemate, a large segment of players get bored and leave. If it is dominated by one side, players will get bored (of winning and losing) and leave.

In the case of a stalemate, the only time we will see the city siege is during off hours. This just frustrates players because they end up feeling helpless and not a part of the game. Why fight all day long when they will just take the city while you sleep?

Fixing the city siege mechanics and the fortress sieges will not help with this most basic problem. The whole idea of the campaign needs to be readdressed. Here is my half-baked idea.

Use the LotD resource concept. Instead of a direct conflict have it be more of a competition. Zone captures, kills, scenarios and prior tiers all contribute to the victory meter. Once filled the opposing city is opened. Get rid of the fortress sieges, no one likes them in their current form.

Just like the LotD, have a lockout timer that allows the losing realm to gain points while the winners can not. Also have a handicap system that will eventually get the losing realm into the opposing city.

This competitive system should prevent stalemates from occurring as all PvP contributes to the victory meter. By allowing the losing side access to the opposing city it may keep them interested as well. To keep all T4 zones relevant, one could be picked at random to provide a % bonus to the victory meter.


As always I am going to harp on about DaoC.

The problem with the City Sieges is that they are just too epic. Too much time, effort and ultimately loss is associated with them. In DAoC the aim was to capture keeps and to take Relics. These Relics were moveable realm-wide buffs which gave 5% bonus(I forget the real amount) to this or that and were defended in keeps.

Not only did you improve your character, play some good organised PvP, fight for your realm AND gain a benefit for the WHOLE of the realm (instead of just pissing off the opposing side)but it was balanced on all levels and success was based on the skill and organisational abilities of the players.

Meh, thats enough. The other aspect is that PvP/RvR works best when there is a 3v3 split.

What slows down those city sieges is the need for two fortresses to be taken..

Having more capitols would make the attacks happen more often and not as seldom as it's on balanced servers. With only one fortress to be taken the attacks would be much faster.. Cutting the cities is the flaw imo.. It's not only something cosmetic when they are missing.. it affects the whole endgame.

I don't expect to see IC with my Runepriest, because I don't play very late or early and at primetime there is hardly any chance that the resistance can be broken and we invade the city. Even getting to stage1 happens rarely before midnight.

Both very valid points. I was trying to avoid "what they should have done" and concentrate more on what they can do. The game is what it is now, so how can we realistically move forward?

Ha, yeah. Thats the part which stumps me. They can't bring in another realm as the infrastructure of the game and the lore wont allow it.

I'm going to have a thunk...

When I interviewed them at Baltimore, there were hints at the possibility of using successful RvR mechanics in the LotD zone for the main campaign. So what you're suggesting isn't far off from feasible.

Tbh I'm pretty new in T4 (lvl35 atm) but was able to attend to the defence of the chaos capital and it was pretty boring. At first, there was a huge battle on with several warbands fighting each other. But it was not like a huuuge team deathmatch with occasional "oooh look invasor-set piece"-drop. Then the order was pushed out of the city and/or became as bored as I was. The last 45min (+30min bonustime) we were just farming the PQ. *yawn*

Did I miss something?

Spelling: "But it was not like a huuuge team deathmatch" -> "But it was more like a huuuge team deathmatch"


@Frank: I know they said they wanted to use the Purge, hopefully they go beyond that.

@Anon: That is pretty much how the city siege works right now. They are changing it in the near future to be more about the PvP and less about the PQ.

Well once we figured out that nothing matters for victory points in a city seige except tier 2 undercroft scenarios we normally lock to stage 2 in less than 30 minutes with all our low level twinked out alts, and lately its been every day it seems. About 5 wins does it if there are no losses.

Isn't the victory point mechanic you are proposing, what we had for zone capture prior to domination mode ?

But you are saying that one side gains dominance and accumulates points for their victory?

If so, what's to stop the non dominant side from going off to level alts, while the dominant side pushes onto the capital?

People are lazy and if there is nothing in it for them, they will find something more productive to do. Which means you really will have onesided fights, that LotD gave us at the beginning, but with LotD there was tier 4 rvr to go back to, changing city capture into a Lotd resource capture mode would give people no where to go to, apart from alts.

So I don't believe you can change the mechanic into a LotD resource style.

@skar. I'm saying make it less of a direct conflict. Instead both sides work towards a goal. The idea of having a linear conflict looked good on paper, but isn't working out. If they balance the populations we will be in a stalemate.

@eyeball Ironically, the Scenarios don't contribute much at all. Owning the Objectives inside and killing players more than they kill you in even battles or where you are outnumbered contributes far more. At best, scenarios are 5-10%of the total VP pool.

@werit We're thinking on the same lines lately it seems. http://gaarawarrgabs.wordpress.com/2009/07/02/everything-i-need-to-know-about-war-i-learned-from-monopoly/

@gaar: That is an epic post, in both length and content ;) But great minds do think a like. Lets hope Mythic is thinking the same way. I have Cataan and several expansions in the closet ;)

I hate to toot my own horn here but I called this waaaaaaay back in beta when they announced the city capture mechanics.

The design is so flawed it's just embarassing.

The only way for the current capture system to work properly is to actually have population imbalance or one dominant realm because perfect balance yields only a stalemate.

Yet one more reason why Mythic were foolish for not adding a third realm.

As for your idea, I think it could definitely work, but how sad is it that they need a "handicap" to compensate for terrible design?

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