Welcome to an exclusive club restricted to all of humanity except for the elite few with an opinion. Welcome to the ultimate MMORPG discussion chamber. Welcome to the Viper Room. Before you run away screaming that you hate snakes, let me tell you that the viper room isn’t a room filled with deadly reptiles, so take it easy, Mr. Jones; you’re safe. The Viper Room is actually a theoretical room in which my friends and I sit while discussing all things MMO related.
Today’s post is pulled from a Viper Room discussion about Ilum, the open world PvP area of SWTOR, and its zerg promoting tendencies. I (Darth Submarine) opened the talk with some comments about zergs specific to Ilum and waited for a response from my good buddy, Padawan Tonsoop.
Zergs Suck and SWTOR Didn’t Get the Memo
My comment was as follows:
I’ve expressed my love in the past for 3 Faction PvP, but that doesn’t mean I believe all 2 faction PvP will fail. What I do believe is that 2 faction PvP must be regulated, by design, to reduce and discourage zergs. Why? Because zergs suck! How many people actually enjoy them? If you’re in the larger army, you easily steamroll what little resistance there is while that small resistance army gets thoroughly squashed without any feeling of competitiveness.
In the case of Ilum, not only does the zerg suck – unless you think farming Republic at their base or pulling Imps into the turrets ad nauseum is fun – it creates massive lag spikes. Lag isn’t just a minor issue in Ilum as it has been in many open world PvP situations in past MMOs, it’s a NIGHTMARE. Cull the zerg and stop the lag, please.
A Short History of Zergs in MMORPGs
Padawan Tonsoop’s reply was as follows:
I’ve played 3 MMORPGs for a long enough period of end game to use them in comparison: DAoC, WoW and WAR. All three of those game had their own machinations of massive PVP, and in all three, it was a boring, watered-down crap-shoot. DAoC is probably the funniest of them all because it has attained such a revered status in the gaming community. One of the reasons for this is purely social: people adore DAoC because it establishes their MMO resume and dates it, theoretically adding considerable weight to their recycled critiques. The second status-elevating item is pure in intention: the game’s RvR had the potential to be awesome. Prior to some of the changes made—I believe the main one was called New Frontiers (they revamped open RvR, keeps and the like, eliminating Emain Macha as it was known) – the game had small-scale PVP that we all fondly remember as awesome, and it truly was–in 2002.
But if we put down the Kool Aid, we recall that DAoC capped out at 250,000 players and was arguably part of the coming-of-age era of MMOs (post UO, pre-WoW) and not subject to the exploded and evolved player base MMO devs simultaneously enjoy ($$) and loathe (see: forums) in 2012. Hibernian casters and their dreaded baseline stun could kill another player inside a stun with 2-3 casts and Midgard healers had an AOE stun which made even the best groups fodder for a well-organized unit. DAoC had balance issues that would sink an MMO within 6 months in today’s market.
WoW’s first foray into PVP was a simple ladder based on killing the opposition, which materialized into a back and forth large group vs. group battle from Tarren Mill to Southshore. Again, some people recall these memories fondly. I don’t; it was terribly boring. WAR was a game predicated on massive open RvR. It advertised epic and massive-scale keep sieges and battles at objective points. This may come as a great shock, but those battles were boring too. All those games had merit in other forms of PVP, but I have absolutely never found any form of massive (25+ per side) PVP to be consistently enjoyable. This may very well be exacerbated by the fact that I enjoy playing melee classes, but I have run the whole gambit of archtypes in these battles, and if they weren’t part of the quest for whichever carrot was the shiniest at the time, you wouldn’t have caught me dead out there. Operating as a massive unit and overcoming the opposition sounds like so much fun and Mel Gibson looks and sounds badass in Braveheart. But when I toss that baby on blue ray, I don’t see a UI with 40 raid members clogging my plasma, and the battles scenes don’t hitch and skip in flashes of color. I also noticed that warriors did not charge into fray only to attempt to run back to friendly lines for a few heals to rinse and repeat.
Ilum fails where every other MMO failed in creating massive PVP objectives, but Bioware actually does spectacularly worse. In Ilum every kill is worth 1 no matter the circumstance. Why? Why would an entire Ops group moving down 3 people count the same as a group of 3 taking down another group of 3? One feat is clearly more challenging than the other. Wouldn’t it be logical to award points on a scale? Yes, this introduces issues with solo kills and potentially exploiting the main group, but those issues are commonplace to MMO devs. Awarding more points for small groups would do its part to discourage rampant zerging. Before we even address the fabric of Ilum’s existence and its perpetual nothingness, we need to dissuade players from roving in massive groups striving only to kill 30 people for their bag. Look, I want my bag too. Carrots are important to my Jedi as well; I left my soapbox at home. But I want to chase my carrot in an enjoyable fashion, not running on fumes in a purple 93 Chevy
In WAR and DAoC, solo and small-group kills were worth much more than warband/OPs/Raid zerging. There was a time and place for those large group (Relics/keeps) but the day-to-day gameplay (read: DAILY QUESTS) should not rely on zerging. If an Ops group needs 30 kills to complete the daily; a solo player should need 5; a two-man group 10, etc. And the craziest part is that SWTOR’s engine isn’t polished enough yet for these massive-scale battles. So, for the love of the Force, Bioware, adjust the Valor rewards in Ilum to encourage small-scale battles. Make this small change while you figure out the meaning for Ilum’s existence.
That’s it for this edition of Rumblings from the Viper Room. Soon to come: Part 2 of the Ilum zerg PvP problem where I respond to Padawan Tonsoops massive letter and much more! I hope you enjoyed the rumblings, and I advise you to jump into the discussion and leave a comment; who knows what other Viper Room topics we can drum up. Thanks for reading!