Thursday, December 18, 2008

Re: Friendly Fire

I used to play Counterstrike with a friend of mine. He actually played it way more than I did, and he kinda introduced it to me. We'd run the de_dust maps over and over, and I always felt it was pretty stupid that I'd be up in front of him peeking around the corner, we'd see a bad guy, and my friend would dump two clips right through my backside. His bullets somehow recognized that I was this guy's pal, and the bullets would politely pass through my body, until they hit a bad guy, at which point they'd become "real bullets" and kill him. It was all rather silly. Counterstrike wasn't very interesting to me.

After complaining about this to him, he told me that there were "Friendly Fire" servers we could play on where bullets acted like bullets the whole time, and suddenly the game became interesting. The 'old' way of playing was that you'd come around a corner, see a body (any body), and shoot him in the face. If it was a bad guy, hooray, they were dead now. If it was a friend, don't worry, your bullets knew better, and would magically pass through his head. By introducing the actual need to LOOK before shooting, the game took on a whole new level. Add to the fact that (except on the fy_iceworld maps we'd sometimes play) killing a friend meant they had to sit out the remainder of the round, and it added some tense moments to gameplay.

Ever since then, any time I play an FPS, I always filter the server list to only show "FF-on". It just seems like the natural thing to do. I'm not even really good at FPSes, I tend to just unload entire clips into peoples shoes when I'm startled, but we're playing a gun game, for fuck's sake, and guns are dangerous, right?

So the other day when WoW went down for maintenance, a few of us still in vent decided to switch it up, and hey let's play some COD4. We never actually got in a server together, because one guy had the vanilla version, and I and a few others were running Steam... plus we couldn't figure out how to add friends in Steam, and I live in Japan so the pings didn't line up... WHATEVER. The point is, during this fumbling process, I casually mentioned that I only play on FF-on servers, and my friend Tragedy, who up until a short while ago was like some demolitions expert in Iraq defusing landmines and bombs and shit in the military, said he refused to play on FF servers because of morons that fling grenades around willy nilly.

To me, that's kinda the whole point.

You're fighting a common enemy, but you also need to be fully aware of your team mates and surroundings in order to not run out in front of the guy dumping clips like Rambo, or hop over a wall right in front of a claymore. War is hell, etc etc.

Which brings us to another point. I mentioned last night in vent that we should all get the new Runes of Magic open beta, and get world first kills on that game's version of Hogger just for shits. I actually haven't read up on Runes of Magic too intensely, but it's some free to play MMO that's going to go for a microtransaction model to support itself. That alone is a pretty big turnoff, but they've apparently 'ripped WoW off so perfectly' that people are talking. As I was talking about it, someone in vent brought up the page and started reading some bullet list he found. Apparently, when you kill someone in PvP, you can loot one or two items off their body. I never played UO or any game where that was possible, but to me, that sounds pretty shit hot. Along comes Tragedy again to say what a horrible idea that would be, and "if I lost something like my Thunderfury to some random faggot in PvP I'd go kill someone. It would make me just want to camp in the capitol cities and never leave for fear of losing the shit I'd earned". It turns out my friend Trag is a huge pussy, but we still love him regardless.

The fact is that the entire dynamic would shift. It would take a while to soak in, but as it stands now, any loot you earn in WoW is yours forever. Until you decide to sell it, disenchant it, or just outright delete it, there's no way you'll ever LOSE an item unwillingly. Once you got used to the new system, the concept of a bank would take on actual meaning. When you got a drop of that awesome sword of +32 Pew Pew, it would be yours as long as you could protect it. If that meant you kept it locked up in your bank and never used it, then sure, you'd never lose it, hooray. But when you think of it in the new sense, you could actually use that sword to earn new loot. If everyone is a huge pussy, and only wears greys outside of the castle walls because they're afraid of losing thier items then two things happen. One, they're going to have a hard time grinding mobs because they refuse to actually use the loot they earn. Two, those that DO use the good items will steamroll everyone in thier path. This seems like it would lead to wearing better armor (blues and purples), so you actually stand a chance against the steamroll.

As I said earlier, assuming you get a really good weapon, it could actually earn you gear to go kill other players and loot their corpses. This is of course a slippery slope in game design, assuming you want to ensure that the public enjoys playing your game. Suddenly, 5 man groups roaming the countryside are a threat to your gear itself, and so I hope you have five friends too. Suddenly, we're coming across 5 vs 5 man showdowns, and there's no fucking arena involved. No "please queue me up to fight, I'm ready now" bullshit to wade through when you want to kill someone.

This all comes back to the fact that PVE servers are labeled 'normal', and Open RvR servers on Warhammer were shunned at launch, because people want thier PvP to be constrained to the little fenced in area in the corner of the zone. It's silly. I'm not 'out for blood pvp joe', but I've ALWAYS rolled on PvP servers, for the same reason that I always play on FF-on FPS servers. Bullets should hurt. The games have WAR in the title, be it -hammer or -craft.

Take it a step further, and demand that AoE spells (or cleaves, whatever) inflict damage on anyone, be they player or mob. Tragedy refused to even acknowledge this, as "we're playing a fantasy game where I'm a cow that turns into bears, cats, and tudurkens, it's not grounded in reality", which to me is a copout, like saying "we're not even going to have this discussion". The fact is that we throw FIRE balls and shoot LIGHTNING at bad guys. We intuitively know that fire and lightning hurt, so ... uh... your bullets fly thru me and hit him? ok, gg. I've often complained that there's no way to know if that frost trap that just popped on the ground is an 'alliance frost trap or a horde one', and there's no way to know short of stepping on it and seeing if I start to walk slower. Why not have traps affect everyone? It's ridiculous that as a warlock, I can run into the middle of an AoE shitstorm, and pop Hellfire, and watch my health drop, but only because My Hellfire Hurts Me Too. Thank god Blizzard, Hurricane, and Arcane Whatever don't hurt me though... bleh. It's stupid.

The whole problem is the ingrained mentality that "that's just the way it is, if it was different it would be hard".

Anyway. I'm installing Runes of Magic now, maybe it's just bad, but at least it got me thinking about alternate possibilities. Maybe I'll write it up for the next entry.


Anonymous said...

I will tell you exactly what will happen with the looting rules the way you describe. When people go out to PvP, they will go naked, or at least not equipped with any items they care to lose. This is exactly what happened on EQ on the Rallos Zek server I played on, which has a similar rule - loot one item.

Melf_Himself said...

Every time you loot an item, a carebear loses its wings...

Friendly fire is a cool idea though. I have a simple solution to remove the griefing aspect: make friendly fire hurt only the person who made the attack. So if you grenade five team mates, congratulations you just took x5 grenade damage, and your team mates are unharmed.

x5 is probably a bit harsh, but then again, people will learn pretty quickly not to spam grenades willy nilly.

David said...

I couldn't begin to imagine the grief-fest that would be friendly-fire WoW. Every asshat out there would be spamming AOE at BG graveyards and hitting flag cappers in AB.

As for looting pvp opponents, it sounds intriguing, but wouldn't it suck if you lagged or dc'd or your dog pees on you while you are pvping, and you end up losing a valuable item? And if everyone pvp'd in the same grey crap then there's no incentive to loot enemies.

It would be world of Quakecraft, where everyone has the exact same gun and exact same hat.

Anonymous said...

I'm excited for Darkfall online for this, I played Rallos Zek Back in EQ1. when you left the city you were damn sure you met up with your guildies as soon as possible.

In dark fall you can loot everything off the players corpse, mount included. you can kill people on their mounts as well. they've taken the idea from AoC where you can attack Anyone, even your own guild members, and believe me. your guild leader does not like being killed because your bored so your griefing him.

Now, could you picture raiding in WoW without aoe's the warriors worried about cleave because it could hit a rogue or the tank. Mages would be useless, Locks couldn't fear kite or they may kite their own pets away. mage's would just bring absolute anarchy to the party, no matter what you where doing.

I've been playing Dungeons and dragons since second edition, I'm use to the idea that spells are as equally detrimental to the party as the baddies. Honestly I'd rather spells effected everyone in their area. it makes sense. but good lord would we have a lot of bad mages out there.

Anonymous said...

The idea of FF in a game like WoW isn't as bad as it'd seem. Certainly the griefers in BG would abuse the hell out of the mechanic, but it would actually make people better at the game in my opinion, albeit Blizzard will have to actually design encounters that require us tanks to position things better.

Right now, if you look at the trash in Naxx (normal and heroic versions), they don't offer enough threat to not be AoE'd down, so we tanks just pile them up on top of each other and tell the DPS to go to town with AoE. This completely trivializes the content, and yah I get it Blizzard reps have stated that they wanted Naxx to be easy, but so easy that we can clear 4 wings in less then 3 hours?

FF could be used with reduced damage to your allies, but still enough damage that they tanks would have to be more responsible for positioning mobs, the AoE-capable DPS would have to be more intelligent on where they place it, and the healers would have to be more attuned with the healing needs, and not randomly spamming CoH, CH, and Wild Growth.

I say "fuck it, bring it on"

Anonymous said...

I think the care bears on the PvE would cry, This isn't why i signed up to play!

Khatib said...

"The whole problem is the ingrained mentality that "that's just the way it is, if it was different it would be hard"."

And this is why I have said in the past and will continue to say that WoW has irreperably damaged the MMORPG genre.

It was cool that it brought in millions of new gamers to the genre so that you'd THINK you'd get more good MMOs out since now the community is 5000% bigger or whatever and should be able to support more games...

But unfortunately, WoW has also been the only game those people have been exposed to and due to a combination of it being a fairly solid game, and it's rampant success, all these newcomers to the genre assume it is the PERFECT game, and anything done differently isn't different, but wrong and bad.

Thus, every new game that comes out is pretty much just going to be a WoW 2.0, ala Warhammer Online.

Personally, I just can't wait for an avatar based game with the overall PvP/politics/area control/crafted items/loot structure of EVE online. Preferably it would be fantasy over sci-fi, but I'd play either if it was just avatar based and not just "use spreadsheets, click F1-F8, wait" for combat.

Khatib said...

"they've taken the idea from AoC where you can attack Anyone, even your own guild members,"

Speaking of people who've only really ever played WoW and don't know the true background of what can make a good MMO...

Lol... They took the idea from AoC? Really guy? Many and more games allowed you to attack anyone, years before AoC came out.

Extra thought, the single most disgusting thing WoW has done is really promote and cement in the idea of fixed faction PvP systems with communication barriers. I can't begin to explain how much that stagnates a long term game in terms of community development.

Anonymous said...

I`l still never get wow haters, its done more than any other mmo to push the gender fowards. I guess the fact its a more casual mmo coupled with the fact so many people play it (including 16 year old kiddies and 40 year old professsionals) annoys them, bit like the simpsons turning up at the country club with the pickup truck.

A totally hardcore mmo will never be popular, and rightly so, in cs you spend 10 minutes getting a good weapon (or well at least and expensive one), so if you get splattered and somebody nicks it its no biggy. Now take an mmo where you spend weeks leveling and getting killed takes off an hours leveling time. Or some item you raided for months to get and then out your way out of blackwing lair you bump into a 40 man raid who kill you and rob your ashkandi.

Ffa pvp has its own problems too, namely that death can come from anybody, and theres no chance of help from a member of your faction.

Tesh said...

Khatib, on the flipside, perhaps WOW has as many players as it does precisely because it's a carebear game. The mainstream doesn't want hardcore games, if you can imagine that. The market has spoken, and AoC and WAR just don't have as many players. Some of that is inertia, but I suspect that a large part of it is because people don't want to deal with idiots in PvP and losing their stuff. (Compound that with the subscription model, where time=progress, and time costs money, and looting your stuff is tantamount to theft, to a lot of people.)

oshin, I'm not sure if that slip was intentional or not, but the word is "genre", not "gender". They aren't even pronounced similarly. Normally I don't bother to correct people, but that particular typo was rather... interesting. Not bad, just interesting. ;)

Oh, and I like the idea of friendly fire, so long as it's optional. I like playing both ways; it just depends on my level of devotion at the moment.

Anonymous said...

Have you tried Lineage II before Ixo? In the early days, even dying in PvE cost you a gear or two, and some money as well. It kept me on my toes and had me fear death.

Someone would just walk by and see I dropped my pants and yoink it for himself. High level griefers would be hiding behind trees and spamming power shots in hopes of you dropping some stuff.

The carebear in the young me cried bloody murder, but now I feel that it was actually fun.

In a sadomasochistic sort of way.

But hey, we're playing WoW right?

Rich said...

Never played lineage, no... i've never actually done anything remotely close to what many reading this would consider hardcore, in the MMO genre anyway.

hardcore diablo was about as close as I've come, and dying in that was like 'grats, now reroll'. Coupled with the fact that Diablo's PvP system was pretty... shallow... it wasn't a very engagin experience. You'd get killed from some spell that was cast outside the range of your monitor's resolution, and sometimes wouldn't even really know after the fact what killed you.

One of the other points of this article was a minor touching on Runes of Magic, and I've actually sunk a good 6 or 7 hours into it. It's not bad! Not *good*, but it's like some guys in Germany were like 'WoW? Yeah, we could make that', and did. I think I'm going to have an actual writeup for it next article, I've been going crazy with the screencap button, but want to actually hit 15 (the PvP bottom endcap) and go gank someone before I can really pass judgement ;)

Anonymous said...

Gender was of course a slip, Wow has pushed the gendre forward. But as for the male gender ? its probably done more damage than dungeons and dragons

Anonymous said...

I havent played too many mmos but one that i really liked was Shadowbane.

I know Shadowbane had MANY problems, but all in all i think it would be a great game to build from.

It was FFA pvp and if you were killed in anything in your inventory could be looted
(by anyone) if you didnt get back to it first, including gold. Anything that you had equiped stayed with you though. So if you just looted the purple sword of whoop ass then you better go bank it asap or at least equip it (items were not boe).

There was also a thief class that could steal an item or gold from the inventory of another player.

also the way skills and stats were done led to more class diversity. So when you came across another player you didnt know exactly what skills they had or how powerful the skills were.

ehh... someone make SB2 without the bugs and the without the point and click movement please!!

Khatib said...

A totally hardcore mmo will never be popular, and rightly so, in cs you spend 10 minutes getting a good weapon (or well at least and expensive one), so if you get splattered and somebody nicks it its no biggy. Now take an mmo where you spend weeks leveling and getting killed takes off an hours leveling time. Or some item you raided for months to get and then out your way out of blackwing lair you bump into a 40 man raid who kill you and rob your ashkandi.

Ffa pvp has its own problems too, namely that death can come from anybody, and theres no chance of help from a member of your faction."

See though, there's your problem. You know nothing but WoW, so everything is taken in terms of WoW.

Why do you have a sword like Ashkandi that takes HOURS AND HOURS to get? In a real PvP game, the focus is on the community and the player interaction. Not chasing mobs in set aside instances for bound loot that never gets dropped or destroyed until you so choose.

In games with PvP loot (well, not so much L2, farmers made high grade gear take FOREVER to earn) generally the gear most people PvP in is not high end, not impossible to get, and not impossible to replace. If you have an "Ashkandi" available, you'll probably leave it in the bank and only break it out for special occassions. If you do end up losing it... well that means someone else looted it from you. You know what you do then? You put a hit on that mofo and try to get it back.

And why are you gonna get nailed by 40 people "coming out of BWL" ?? In a real PvP game, there won't be instances all over the place either. Because like I said, a good MMO should be based on *player interaction,* both random and planned. The random part is what actually adds the massively to multiplayer. Sure WoW has 8 million subscribers, but no more than 80 people every really play together -- EVER in the last 3 years of the game, and those numbers are coming down hard and fast with every new xpack.

And the problem with FFA games that no one from your faction has your back?

Um... it's multiplayer for a reason dude. Get out there and make friends. And you can't tell me you've never on your WoW server seen someone of your faction stand by and watch someone else on your faction get killed without helping. The problem with two factions, and ESPECIALLY when they can't communicate, is again. No community growth. PvP is 10x more fun when you can talk to the guys you fought. Either to spout trash and flame, or to toss a gg and talk a little strategy. The majority best online friends after 16 months of SWG that I went into WoW in the same guild with were from the other faction.

Hardly any real bond exists like that in WoW because it takes so much work navigating the garbage of the official forums or going around everything 3rd party with IRC or Xfire or Vent. It should just be a part of the game. PvP in WoW was way more fun at launch, not only because it wasn't a stupid gear grind at it's core... but because the 1337 workaround still existed and people would shout things back and forth at every major engagement.

I still remember... Wow. It's actually been like... 5 years now? Was WoW fall '03 or fall '04 launch? Either way... 4 or 5 years, and the thing I probably still remember most about WoW pvP was the night I went

/y <4|_|_ |\/|3 -- and my phone number.

3 minutes later, my cell rings, and it's a dude from the other faction. We shoot the shit on the phone for like 15 minutes, and then go back to killing each other, and for the rest of the couple years we were both on that server, every time we ran into each other, it was either one of the better fights I'd have, or we'd /wave or /dance or something stupid and ignore each other. But it was all based on the fact that we got to TALK to each other and start somethin goofy like that.

Of course, your average WoW player, who is new to the genre, thinks that blocked communication only makes sense, cause it makes sure people can't cheat... or some stupid ass excuse, when anyone who's going to cross faction cheat is obviously going to use vent, the phone, or at the very least a chat program outside the game while they're doing it so chat logs from the game can't be used against them by CSRs.

So all it does is serve to dumb down and stunt the community, and slightly limit the number of stupid harassment tickets CSRs deal with because people are too uppity to just use /ignore and call it a day.

But to your average WoW player, that's not just *a* way to do it, it's the RIGHT way to do it. And like you, they feel they also need that artificial cushion of "My faction has my back." When many of them don't anyways. If someone wasn't gonna get 50 HP out of helping you fight off the guy who attacked you, do you think they'd ever bother stopping to run between their daily quests for more cash to get more loot to do more dungeons to get more loot to grind more pots to do harder bosses to get more loot?


And that's why WoW sucks and it's community sucks.

Anonymous said...

Friendly Fire rocks, it's a large part of the increased tension in Left 4 Dead.

I'd love to see it enabled in a major MMORPG.

Hatch said...

As others have suggested, a game like that would never be very successful because there are lots of people out there who don't like the risk of losing what they worked for. ESPECIALLY in an environment where it's so easy for someone else who just plays a lot more to steamroll you. You end up in a situation where a few hardcore have EVERYTHING and the masses have nothing (at least until they unsubscribe from your game and resub to wow/warhammer/whatever).

You rightly described how, if a 5 man group is roaming, you better be in a 5 man group too, or you're a sitting duck. That effectively GATES all of the outdoor content in the entire game into requiring 5 players. Or, if you had a server like that in WoW (with all other WoW rules still in effect), the only people who would EVER leave town with any armor on would be a small handful of hardcore guilds sitting in 40 man raid groups just outside the opposing faction's city 24/7, decimating any lone noob leaving town with less than a full raid.

So from this one change, you would take a game with tons of things to do, ranging from solo to large raids, and turn it into a game where there is only ONE available activity: 40 on 40 pvp.

I guess people could still do dungeons, but all the non-instanced content would be flat-out untouchable.