Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Defeating Nim - Preparing PvE'rs for PVP.

Who is Nim? He's a rather nasty Castathan intent of making a big boom in what is left of San Francisco. Lost you so far? Not even sure what a Castathan is? I'm not talking about Eve Online, I'm talking about Defiance.

Defiance is both a TV show (second season starts this month) and a MMO-FPS-RPG. I'm not going to make any real comparison between the game and Eve Online, because you cannot. They are very, very different. However there is a similarity I thought about with the final boss Nim from the original game (there has been expansions since then).

I played Defiance straight through following the storyline mission. It is technically a theme park game with some open world/sandbox concepts. There are lots of side-missions (staple MMO type quests), sieges (Domination style missions along with 30 other players as NPCs attack), arkfalls (bit of spaceship falls from sky, players arrive to loot it as NPC's try to kill you), time trials, etc for you to do as well as the main solo campaign. I ignored all of these and just did the storyline finishing one mission and then jumping straight to the next. I reached the last boss and got utterly slaughtered. I tried again, and died. And again, and again, and again. Not. Even. Close. I got kerbstomped every time. Its a traditional three-stage type boss fight and and I wasn't even close in completing the first stage. So I abandoned the mission in the end and went exploring the game world for another month or so.

Nothing I'd done in the game had prepared me for Nim. It was Defiance's own little learning cliff that slapped me in the face right at the end.

Eventually I went back to try and see if I complete the storyline arc. At that time I have a lot more experience points, higher skills and a couple of nice "rare-drop" guns. I royally screwed Nim on my first attempt. Didn't break a sweat never mind die once. It was easy!

Basically if you ran through the original game just doing the storyline missions you'll hit the wall. You needed to have the skills and the gear to take the end-boss and you'd not get them in time if you only run through the standard storyline missions. In this respect it is a lot like Eve when moving into PvP. All that playing you have done in the past against rats has not prepared you for the next stage of game-play.

This is an issue as I myself, like many players, started as a PvE carebear and moved over to PvP.

It is a common complaint with regard to PvE content in Eve Online. It does noting to prepare you for PvP. All the missions are detailed on the internet. The damage to tank and shoot is laid out for you on various sites. Many years ago when I was a carebear I'd grind level 4 missions in a Navy Raven. Each time I took a mission I'd go to one of the missioning websites and read what I needed. Rats shooting thermal and kinetic damage? Right I'll swap my three invulnerability fields for two thermal and one kinetic. The rats have lowest resist for kinetic damage? Right, I'll load up with Scourge cruise missiles. I don't really need to move? OK then I'll drop the prop mod for a shield boost amplifier or another resist mod. Lots of frigates? Oh in that case I'll use a target painter. Every level 4 I did, I took the perfect counter fit. I never had a problem with any level 4 mission and my one and only Navy Raven is still sat in a hanger in high sec somewhere. Probably the Fricoure Federation Navy base with this level 4 security agent. That ship has destroyed tens of thousands of rats and has never had its armour scratched!

It is rare in PvP that you can do that. Bringing the exact counter for your enemy, especailly when you are solo roaming. You never know what is out there.....

Now, what if NPC rats were as unpredictable as players?

Should there be variations in the statistics of the rat ships? Rather then knowing that you need to tank X and shoot Y, what if they varied? Rats would change ammo type based on your ship. Flying an Amarr ship? They'll go for Nova or Scourge. Flying Caldari? They go Mjolnir or Inferno. May be they could even change damage types mid-fight to exploit any hole in your tank.

What if they didn't have a massive hole in their resists? What if their tanks were like a normal player or plugs any holes the best they can?

What if the ultimate target on assassination type missions would try to escape when they reached low armour and you'd fail the mission if they got away?

You'd force players to start fitting their ships live PvP'rs. All-round omni-tanks, points, multiple types of ammo.

May be, just may be you'd prepare them better for a life of PvP and increase player retention. I assume PvP players stick around longer than mission grinders. There is only so many times you can save that bloody damsel before getting bored!


  1. Ishtanchuk FazmaraiJune 18, 2014 at 6:41 AM

    Long time ago, I suggested that kind of stuff. Create new PvE, designed that way, so players into PvE can get used to PvP through PvE, if they want to.

    Key concept: IF THEY WANT TO.

    Unfortunately, CCP has been talking about the issue each now and then, and it always surfaces as "change all PvE to force pilots to use PvP fits and tactics".

    Of course, that would render PvE ships and fits useless for PvE, which would not fall well amid PvErs, as nobody of us ever asked that.

    So, new PvE that requires PvP fits? That's OK.
    Change all PvE to use PvP fits and render PvE fits useless? Never!

    1. Rebuilding the Cosmos series of missions as PvP type missions would be the natural extension of that. It is a set that many never try, but modifying them into a PvP type mission while leaving the traditional set alone be a happy medium.

    2. Your ship fit becomes useless.... that's too bad, but I dont see why that should stop them. Personally I would love to see competent rats (never really could understand the 6th wave of blockade warping in 100 km off, seeing a ball of their breathren next to a guy who doesnt look like he is braking a sweat and decideing they too had to die) I don't know about the warping off/failed mission thing, maybe if they warped you had to track them down again. and fight things again (for reduced payouts to prevent people from doing it on purpose)

      To get back to my point: You at some level need to write off the ship you fly every time you undock. If it comes back GREAT, if not.... Replace it. Your fit goes the way of the dodo? Well your ship was finally written off, but the pieces are still there. buy a few new ones and your ship is back.

      Personally I fly paranoid as it is, I fly expensive, but that expense is put towards always bringing my bird home. 170k ehp is excessive for L4's, especially when it is 170k omni backed up by 1600 eps burst reps/ 600 sustained, but fools who duel, and go suspect near it dont live to tell the tale either.

    3. Ishtanchuk FazmaraiJune 20, 2014 at 3:15 PM

      170k omni ehp means you're flying bling, which means you'll bite the dust if they bring just a few additional ganknados, which is the most likely outcome of fitting purple in hisec subcaps. ^o^

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Mission completion is probably the least important element of running L4s as the primary goal is to grind for ISK - the reward for L4s is often minimal and players will often leave L4s unfinished just so that after a while they'll respawn and grind all over again.

    Your suggestion about having the NPCs being able to escape is also an interesting one but also difficult because your equally forcing a specific fit - imagine how many mission runners you'll annoy if now all of a sudden instead of being able to use a sniper raven at 80km + you now need to fit a point and scram the target before they run off - all of a sudden a certain combat & ship style is considered 'wrong' to use and missions are impossible to complete without a specific ship or bringing a friend to do the scramming for you.

    The only solution I can see is full on NPC vs NPC battles where the player fills a role in the fleet. In a situation where you would need someone to scram you can either do it yourself (and have NPC backing you up with DPS) or swap over and have an NPC do the scramming while you hit them with the pain train :D

    Obviously it goes much further than that but as a general concept its probably the only way I can think of which would allow players to experience PvP style gameplay, tactics and situations both solo & grouped (ie other fleet members take up other 'roles' within the fleet)

  4. I agree with Ishtanchuk Fazmarai. This type of PvE should be new content and not replace old PvE content. Not only because players would not take well, but also because any new bugs they'd introduce (you know it would happen) wouldn't screw PvE altogether until they got around to fix it. There's also the issue of getting all missions rebalanced for the new type, and that could lead to drought on the PvE missions as they'd scramble to get them done one by one. But if they are new, advanced and possibly lucrative (not necessarily ISK, but also for repairing standings or gaining access), these new missions would likely be well received.

  5. I like this idea. A way to introduce it without too much change would be to randomize the rat type in missions. It's been a long time since I ran missions but I seem to recall that there were multiple missions with the same name. The only difference was which pirate faction you were fighting against. What if the mission didn't tell you ahead of time which pirate group you were going against and that it was randomly determined when you warped to the mission site. You would have to fit omni tank and depending on your weapon system have to bring omni ammo

  6. An interesting idea. Your new NPC rats sound a lot like w-space sleepers.

    When ratting in w-space, PvP is a real threat and we often ratted in PvP fit ships.

    I think adding elements like this to missions would be a good idea.

    Reading many of the other comments, it seems that the players would be the biggest hurdle. "I don't wanna have to change my PvE fit or tactics" seems to be a popular opinion. Yet re-balancing and changes to meta and tactics are a part of PvP life. Adapting to changing circumstances is an important skill in this game.

    PvE is so boring in Eve that most of the participants are looking for the min-max, getting the most Isk for the least effort and risk. Any change that threatens that will not be welcome in the carebear community.

    Though perhaps if more players are exposed to PvP earlier in their Eve lives, maybe they wouldn't end up going carebear that hardcore.

  7. Maybe after they finish rebuilding there pve creating tools this would be als goed idea!