Tobold once again has an interesting article up. This time he is asking would mono-games be better than multi-games?
The premise is that since game developers seem to have such a hard time balancing their games between the PvP and PvE modes, why not just focus a game on a single mode. A PvP game wouldn’t need to make sure that characters are balanced and useful for PvE, and vice versa.
I don’t think this would be a very good idea overall.
First of all, we have recently seen the results of a developer focusing solely on PvP as the core of a game. Fury, by Auran, is a PvP game that effectively sent its developer broke. Now maybe that wasn’t caused by the PvP more than it was by the execution of the game, but the message is clear. It is harder to develop a persistent PvP game than it is to develop a persistent PvE game.
As for PvE games; there are more than enough examples of the success of PvE only games. A developer can create a PvE only game and expect some measure of success if it’s a good game. But even here there would be problems adopting a mono-game style. World of Warcraft has been so much of a success that MMORPG players now expect a variety of styles to be available to them.
Don’t feel like spending the next three hours raiding. Do a couple of battlegrounds. Want to take it easy, just complete a couple of quests while chatting to your guildies. Variety, as they say, is the spice of life, and players now expect that.
So what’s the solution?
Instead of creating Mono-Games, how about creating MMORPGs where the player characters have split-personalities?
There are two big impediments to balancing PvE and PvP — class/skill balance and gear.
Let’s address the class/skill balance first. Tobold touches on the problem when he says that:
Class abilities get nerfed to achieve balance in PvP, although that ability might have been perfectly balanced for PvE, and is now underpowered. Abilities and item stats like aggro management end up being useless in solo and PvP play…
How about a system where there is no need to nerf any skills or abilities to make them useful and balanced for one game mode or the other. Here’s where the split personality comes in. Give the player both sets of skills and abilities — a PvP set and a PvE set.
This wouldn’t mean that a player has two completely unique set of skills. The way to do this would be to allow some skills to be used only in PvP and others to be used only in PvE and the rest to be useful on both game modes. A good example of this would be stealth.
There’s recently been a lot of emotion about the Warhammer Online developers decision to include stealth when they previously said that they wouldn’t. A lot of players don’t like the idea of a rogue sneaking up behind them and then stun-locking them to the graveyard. But stealth can be useful in a PvE game. It’s a great way to crowd control in an instance. Just stealth up to the mob, stun it, and then deal with the adds. Getting rid of stealth, hurts the PvE game.
Keeping stealth as a PvE only skill, or reducing its effectiveness just in PvP would be a way around the dilemma. PvE players can keep using it in groups and solo PvE, but not in PvP. A great compromise.
Some attributes can also be dealt with in this way. A class might be terribly overpowered in PvP, but if its attack power was reduced to balance the PvP game, the class might no longer be viable for raiding. Do the same here. Have a PvE/PvP split. One attack power equation for the PvE game and another for the PvP mode.
And since those sorts of attributes are often affected by gear, do the same with each piece of equipment. Just have modifiers that have different effects on the different game modes.
This would allow the developers to balance gear more effectively, and give them the side benefit of specifying equipment for one game mode or the other. Raid gear would no longer, necessarily, overpower PvP play, and equipment gained through PvP arenas or honor points could be directed specifically to the PvP modes of play. At best that chest piece or axe could be used effectively in both PvE and PvP game modes without unbalancing either.
The split personality system could also be extended to other parts of the game. Talent trees for instance. Instead of having players respec when they change between raid mode and PvP mode, they have their permanent raid spec, and their permanent PvP spec. That’s much easier for players to manage.
I’m not saying that this system would be without its problems. There would still be balancing issues within each mode, and players would still demand that someone else’s class be nerfed because it does more damage that their own. Balancing is hard too. It doesn’t matter if the game is mono or multi mode, balancing classes and skills takes time and effort.
However, a split personality system would make the developers life much easier since balancing is between classes, not between classes and modes. Tobold makes the point that Mono-Games would be cheaper to produce too. While split personality system would be more expensive than the mono game system — more content is required for one thing — less time would be required for balancing and that would reduce the overall cost.
Let me know your thoughts.