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Since the early ages of video games, “Player versus Player” (PvP) has always been one, if not the most entertaining feature.  As my previous article also highlighted, very few other situations can create such thrill in a virtual environment. The very basic form of PvP consist in a duel with 2 players facing each others and it was the foundation of some of the most successful games such as the iconic “Pong”. Artificial Intelligence made great progresses since then and developpers managed to create complex virtual adversary with realistic behaviours. However, combat against human opponents remains a central aspect in most multiplayer games and obviously in mmorpgs.

Even in today’s mmo, simple duels are comon, usually as a form a training to keep up with your character’s combos and counters. Duelling is now so classic that most mmo are providing this basic feature. Developpers quickly introduced new forms of PvP involving group of players in the “open world” of the game.

Ultima Online (UO) released in the late 90’s was a precursor on many levels including this aspect. With a skill based approach for the character progression, guilds were already declaring war to each others in 1998, letting their members to fight anywhere, including towns, without much penalty. Player Killers were also introduced in UO, with a heavy penalty system for those bloodthristy players if they were caught. Even a bounty system, allowing victims to report and put a bounty on their assassins head was already available. Many other features encouraged PvP in the game and it remains a reference despite his technical flaws.

This was just the beginning and Ashron’s Call walked in his footsteps using more or less similar mechanics, within a 3d environment this time instead of 2D iso.When Everquest (EQ) took over the still new mmo industry, they quickly realise the potential and released PvP dedicated servers few months after the release. Introducing for the first time segregated PvP with factions, using races to determine which faction you would belong to. We could also see the first glimpse of PvP tournaments in duel or group versus group. This was a great time, but something important was missing to the PvP. The simple joy of killing another virtual player was not enough and players were now expecting meta effects, this is where Dark Age of Camelot arrived and managed to fill this gap.

Dark Age of Camelot (DaoC) like UO, was originally designed with the PvP in mind, where other mmorps usually consider PvE as the main ingame feature. A massive dedicated zones would let tons of players fight each other in order to conquer as much land as possible, including forts and relics. These artifacts would provide bonuses to your whole faction, even if you didnt personally took part in these conquests.  Fight were fierce and epic in size, and the game was a success on so many levels.

When World of Warcraft (WoW) arrived on the market, this blockbuster redefined what the mmo genre would be until even now, including PvP. Instanced in small scaled “arenas”s, also known as “structured” PvP (sPvP). The main improvements were the great responsivness of your character’s and a well developped competitive aspect with ranking system, tournaments and so forth. Beyond the commercial success and the fact that WoW democatrised the genre, it reduced the scope of PvP in mmos.

Several other games managed to keep the spirit of open PvP with epic battles. Titles such as Shadowbane or even more recently Darkfall managed to produce some of the greatest PvP enviroment to date. On the other hand, they struggled commercialy speaking, targeting a niche of hardcore players who are totally dedicated to the PvP. The hard truth is that most players will prefer to spent most of their game time in PvE, PvP being a secondary activity for most of them. I guess this is a quite less stressfull but also since most mmo creates enviroments less enclined to PvP, players get used to it. Well, gamers behaviours and preferences is another article 🙂

So what’s next? As I write this article, Guild Wars 2 is the most awaited “triple A” mmo in the west and should release this year. Deeply influenced by DaoC for his large scale PvP battle and by WoW for his sPvP arenas, ranking system and fast gameplay approach. It will most likely be a huge success. However, i already feel that a huge aspect is missing. Despite the recent success of sandbox games, this feature has unfortunately been discarded from GW2. Offering almost “limitless possibilities”, a “triple A” mmo inclined toward PvP with a great sandbox aspect could definitly be a hit. Games like Archeage with player built structures and siege weapons will be the first of this new generation of mmo and hopefully more will follow.

GW2 here with some siege action

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Written by Fallanx

August 23, 2011 at 10:03 am

Posted in MMORPG, PvP

Tagged with , ,

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Murder simulations; also known as “First Person Shooters” is a type of game i particularly affectionate. Some of the best multiplayer games produced during the last decade were FPS and militarised background naturally came up. These games managed to create some of the most entertaining moment i had as a player. Battlefield mayhem is the apex of multiplayers experience, from Omaha beach, Vietnam jungles or even Bagdad streets, game developers always tried to reproduce past; current or fictionnal conflicts with more or less success.

We can easily distinguish several categories of games with this setup. Tactical shooters on a large scale being one of my favorite; I will introduce you with two games modifications,  Arma 2 mod “Warfare” and Battlefield 2 mod “Project Reality”. I choosed these mods because they are both setted in a contemporary background with excellent features.

Arma 2: Warfare

When it comes to virtually blow someone up, Bohemia Software knows it business. They started back in 2001 with the award winner Operation Flashpoint and since then developped some of the best “mil sim” on PC. Arma 2 is their latest released product and the vanilia version already provides an amazing playground of 86 square miles. With countless vehicules and weapons, Track-IR support, solo, coop and PvP modes including a sandbox aspect, this game is a must have despite numerous bugs.

Warfare mod is just the consecration.

 

“With 3 factions: East, West and Resistance. East and West are playable, with NPCs as Resistance.  Each town provides supply points which enable your team to build more bases and buy upgrades. To win the game players must either eliminate the other players bases or seize control of all the towns.”

So technically you’ll experience PvE and PvP in this conquest mod with a sandbox aspect. Each PC faction built bases and upgrade them with ressources obtained from captured towns. As a player you will lead a squad of npc who will follow your commands. You can even bind npc’s commands to the Track-IR movements.  After wiping NPC “resistance”, you quickly end up fighting against real players and their npc’s. Who gets access to Air supremacy first is often defining the outcome of each game.

Despite numerous bugs, especially with the NPC’s IA and many glitches, this mod is on my top list due to the gargantuan size of the map, the amount of vehicules and equipments available.

Battlefield 2: Project Reality

There’s no need to introduce Battlefield 2; who sold over 2 million copies. This blockbuster came with a SDK who managed to produce some of the most entertaining mods with many different settings. My favorite would be Project Reality for many reasons but mostly because this mod redefined the notion of teamplay within a “mil sim” oriented FPS.  Excellent coordination between Squad Leaders and the Commander using ingame VOIP  is a must. There’s also a mini sandbox aspect with the ability for each side to build a “Firebase” for players to spawn closer to the frontline. The respawn time for vehicules is increased and kits are  available in a limited amount; making every asset even more precious. Theres obviously many changes compared to the vanillia version and they did an impressive job to revamp BF2 and maintaining it with new versions on a regular basis.

 

To give you a precise example of how deep these changes are, players using Ground Laser Target Designator will provide targeting for another player in his fighter jet who will drop a laser guided bomb. The pilot will have to be at the right altitude; distance; angle and speed to drop his deadly ordnance and make sure he hit the target.

With several type of custom game modes, the main one being an advanced conquest mode called Assault And Secure (AAS).  Basically you have to cap all flags in a specific order, naturally creating a frontline with choke points and incredible firefights. You will have to heavily rely on your allies to prevail since capturing a flag also require several players in the caping radius.

The other game mode is called Insurgency; where coalition players will have to search & destroy randomly generated weapons caches. They will have to dodge planted IED, suicide cars and ambushes to reach their objectives. Insurgents are able to play as a fighter or as a civilian collaborator. Civilians concept is quite original as they provide human shields to insurgents and they can only throw rocks to defend themselves. With the ability to heal minor wounds; they can also use a cell phone to report infidels on the map.  Allies will have to get very close to civilians in order to arrest them using platic handcuffs. It will generate Intelligence Points, needed to reveal weapons cache. If a civilian is killed by a coalition member; it will result in a  heavy malus for the allied player and his team.

From the streets of  Al-Basrah to the deadly Korengal Valley, this mod as plenty to offer with 28 unique maps, several factions including the British Army, Israeli Defense Force, German Forces, Russian Forces, Chechen independentist, Taliban, Iraquis Insurgents and more. Black Sand Studios tried to exploit every aspect of the now ageing BF2 engine to provide a credible environment with as much realistic details as they could.

I obviously highly recommand these mods if you possess the orginal game or buy them if you don’t 🙂 This article also highlight that some of the best modifications out there push the boundaries of their original titles, boosting the sales years after the release and also to maintain a dedicated community.

So what’s next ? Well I’m now looking forward Arma 3 and Red Orchestra 2, who should provide exciting new battlegrounds with the same approach; SDK included. I’m also looking forward BF3 but this will be another article as it is action/arcadish oriented rather than simulation.

Arma 3 latest presentation during Gamescon 2011

Interresting link on the subject:

http://dslyecxi.com/bestoftactical.html

Written by Fallanx

August 20, 2011 at 11:51 pm