Co-existence of PvP and PvE

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

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11 thoughts on “Co-existence of PvP and PvE

  1. Jeromai May 19, 2014 / 1:46 am

    Is it even possible to name a single game where PvP and PvE are both off-the-charts incredible?

    Hmm… Frozen Synapse and Left 4 Dead, maybe. But as you say, such games are small in scope and essentially the same game in both PvE and PvP, except they work on giving the computer opponent decent and comparable AI to a human player, and/or focus on emotional/narrative pacing in the case of the latter game.

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  2. niks May 19, 2014 / 7:07 am

    cool

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  3. Izlain May 19, 2014 / 7:15 pm

    I’ve said it already, but I’ll reiterate. I think that sandbox games like H1Z1 and maybe even EQNext will be able to incorporate PvP elements that not everyone necessarily has to participate in directly, but will be able to help with the fight. I.E. crafters/harvesters can create sustenance and gear for the PvPers, while remaining relatively safe in player created towns. The PvPers in turn will utilize the PvE players’ goods while defending them. It’s a win win and something that needs to be done to successfully blend the two conflicting parties.

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  4. Izlain May 20, 2014 / 1:32 am

    The game I envision won’t be like EvE. I envision co-op survival against the environment melding with PvP. That’s why H1Z1 intrigues me. The PvE aspects are there with the zombies and the crafting/harvesting etc, and the PvP element is there where someone wants to take your stuff. I can see a use for both types of game play, but really, what the point of all this is: why is it separate? Why does it have to be? Are people afraid to PvP because they don’t like existing systems? Why aren’t they willing to give something new a try? There’s still the same drama in PvE-only games, but instead of the PvP being a direct conflict with combat, it’s a conflict of people thinking you suck or your gear score does. So how is that any different? I’d rather prove that I’m a good player by kicking their ass that slaving away for a gear score that doesn’t mean anything. Competition and conflict are present in any MMO, regardless of if it’s done through PvP.

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    • Braxwolf May 20, 2014 / 8:55 am

      > That’s why H1Z1 intrigues me.
      It doesn’t me, but that may be partially because I think zombies are dumb

      > The PvE aspects are there with the zombies and the crafting/harvesting etc,
      Ok, I’ll give you the (dumb :)) zombies, but I don’t really consider the sandbox elements you describe “PvE”. Some might, but I don’t. What am I versus? The elusive mat node?

      > Are people afraid to PvP because they don’t like existing systems?
      Afraid is kind of a loaded word. I think a lot of people have had experience with PvP in some form or another and don’t care to get back into that type of community. For me, I played the heck out of CoD 4 multiplayer and only ranked in the top half of any match once. That was out of about 6 months of playing. I just never really improved at it, and so it became “not fun”. I have since participated in some LOTRO PvMP which was sometimes fun, but only when I was able to get into a large group to help me out. All of the other times, when playing in a group of two or three (or heaven forbid…solo), it was simply a bloodbath due to the PvP level of our characters and our poor skill at playing against humans. I have precious little time to spend in games, so several hundred hours of leveling for the pure chance of survival just didn’t appeal. Perhaps new systems will even the playing field a little bit, but people predict the future based on past experiences. It’s just how we’re wired.

      >it’s a conflict of people thinking you suck or your gear score does.
      I’ve actually never had this experience. Even if I did, I’m not sure their opinion would really bother me.

      > I’d rather prove that I’m a good player by kicking their ass that slaving away for a gear score that doesn’t mean anything.
      I don’t care to prove I’m a good player either way. I just prefer the problem-solving aspect of PvE instances and attempting to execute a solution with friends. I already know that I’m never going to anything but an average player at best, due to the amount of time I can afford to spend practicing and my relative age. No point in proving my average-ness.

      >Competition and conflict are present in any MMO, regardless of if it’s done through PvP.
      Agreed, though this discussion has gone pretty far from the original point of the post, which was the effect of PvE and PvP in a single game due to real-life resource constraints 🙂

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      • Izlain May 20, 2014 / 8:02 pm

        I guess some people are inherently non-competitive. I have always been competitive in most aspects of my life, so that’s where our different viewpoints come from. Still, I respect your desire to avoid PvP, was mainly trying to understand why. Now I do. And that’s fine. It’s always to each their own with games anyway, I just thought that it would be nice to see a large chunk of the population actually give an open world with the option to PvP a go. I’d like the AI component to also be challenging enough that it encourages people to cooperate rather than just gank. Perhaps in the perfect game world, that will happen one day.

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  5. Vlad Matejka (@thematejka) July 1, 2014 / 8:25 pm

    Loved. That. Meme.

    Anyways, What if Turbine could double it’s LOTRO team and dedicate one half to PvE and the other to PvP? Sounds good in not-thought-for-very-long theory anyways!

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