Over at the NBI, the talkback gauntlet has been thrown down. The topic of choice (for most): can PvP and PvE really co-exist in a single game? Certainly some interesting viewpoints being thrown around, from the heady to the personal. So many, in fact, that it can be difficult at this point to come up with a post while discerning which thoughts are originally mine, and which have been read on one of the many fine posts that have appeared over the past week.
One aspect that I haven’t seen discussed revolves around the nature of project management, itself. Any project manager (not just those in charge of game projects) will tell you that all projects must take into consideration three constraints: scope (requirements), time, and cost (resources, could be people, tools etc.). Each of these constraints will ultimately have an effect on the level of quality of the product being delivered. What I’ve observed within the game industry is companies “promising the moon” to players (scope) while being given an arguably unreasonable deadline to complete it (time) and attempting to make up for both of these by ramping up on staff (cost). Sometimes they can pull it off, but as players can tell you, no game has ever launched “bug free”. Despite the lofty feature promises and best efforts of the company to cover them with increased staff, quality has been sacrificed.
I believe it is difficult for quality PvE and PvP to co-exist in a single game due to the natural constraints and prioritization of game development. Is it even possible to name a single game where PvP and PvE are both off-the-charts incredible? My experience is that if a game does attempt both PvP and PvE, one will ultimately suffer in favor of the other. Some of my first online gaming experiences were within the “Call of Duty” franchise, games in which PvE exists almost solely as a way to try out weapons and to serve as a tutorial for the much more trumpeted PvP multiplayer aspect. Most recently, I’ve spent many hours in LOTRO, where PvE is king and PvP is the unfortunate step-child. Simple project constraints have forced development studios to focus on their “bread and butter” whilst simultaneously “throwing a bone” to the small set of players who log in to the game for a different purpose than most. Let’s also not downplay the affect of an extra check-box on the marketing slide. A player who is trying to decide between two games may be swayed one way or the other thanks to the promise of an alternate end-game experience.
All games would like to dominate both the PvP and PvE segments of the market. Unfortunately, in a world where time and cost constraints exist, decisions on the quality of one or the other are a necessity. In the current market conditions, I simply don’t see how both can exist with the quality that players demand.
#PvP #PvE #NBI2014
Featured image by jean– on Flickr Creative Commons