A Guide for the Student on the Ways and Means of the Warg and the Stalking of Prey

Why PvMP Is The Way It Is: Part II

In part one I took a look at how PvMP has developed over the years and its position with regards to the rest of the game. Here I am going to be looking at why things have come about the way they have.

Off Side

In the last part I made much of the fact that PvMP is a side game and for good reason. Launching the game with PvMP included as a last minute addition that would effectively act as a mini ‘game within a game’ meant that LOTRO’s PvP faced two key problems from the start:

The system wasn’t finished. You can see this in the fact that the Defiler wasn’t made available until after the game launched. Less dramatically, but far more important in its ramifications, this unfinished state could be seen over the following five years as Turbine tried to fire ‘magic bullets’ at PvMP to make all the problems go away.

The second problem was a lot more subtle in that it perhaps wasn’t so easy to identify right away. However, even if it was hard to spot at first it’s effects would be impossible to miss as the game progressed. The problem was that with PvMP being a side game there was considerable difficulty for an active, long lasting, PvMP community to form and take root.

Combo Finisher

Right from the start then PvMP was saddled with two major drawbacks. The lack of polish to the system along with missing features; balance issues, etc meant that it was something of a niche for players. That niche status and lack of integration with the rest of the game meant that players would come and go with only the most dedicated sticking around consistently.

With only a relatively small core of players sticking around in PvMP for the long term it seems obvious that PvMP simply wouldn’t be able to generate the numbers that other aspects of the game, such as raids, instances, festivals, etc would be able to generate. That in turn leads to less attention being directed at PvMP in a cycle of diminishing returns.

It is important to point out that Turbine have, from time to time, come along and given PvMP an injection of dev time. It’s is especially apparent in the time sine Kelsan started heading up PvMP. The key here though is that despite good intentions, and some great work, the changes that have come to PvMP haven’t really expanded the system at a base level.

Community

It’s the initial failure to establish a strong PvMP community that is at the heart of LOTRO’s PvMP problems. Players need to feel that their gameplay matters and in PvMP the feeling one gets is very often the opposite. The obvious solution would be to expand the scope of PvMP and integrate it more tightly with the rest of LOTRO. However, here we run into a major obstacle: the community. Whilst a broad based long lasting PvMP community has proved elusive a strong PVE centric community did take shape and its a community that at best views PvMP with indifference and at worst views it with outright hostility.

LOTRO became, and is resolutely, a PVE centric game. Broadening PvMP out of its narrow confines is something that will likely see opposition from many players. Perhaps they might feel that dev time is being taken away from PVE systems; they might feel the game is heading away from its core values; they might see an expansion of PvMP as a threat to the aspects of the game they most enjoy and so on. These are all understandable reactions of course, but they underscore the difficulty LOTRO has in making PvMP anything more than a side game.

The Art Of The Impossible

So how does PvMP ever become more than it is? Well there are in fact some encouraging signs. For starters the RoR PvMP update is more than just a lick of paint, it is obviously aimed at paving the way for the Ettenmoors to see more usage. That fact alone is very telling because it shows us that the devs are not happy with PvMP from a business viewpoint.

The side game nature of PvMP means that it sees relatively limited use. That isn’t a good thing if you are wanting to make money from it and PvMP is a potential cash cow in this F2P era. That the devs would want to see more PvMP players, and thus more PvMP cash, seems obvious. The first step is of course to make the Ettenmoors fit for purpose, which I think is what we are seeing the start of with RoR.

It’s the step beyond that that will be the most challenging. The Ettenmoors is what it is, but it is never going to be able to generate the sort of PvMP community that befits a top tier MMO. For that to happen PvMP needs to expand, not just into other regions, but into the rest of the game through better use of technology, more integration with existing systems and so on.

Whether Turbine has the will to push through such changes at this stage of the game will ultimately decide if PvMP can ever be more than the sum of its parts.

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3 responses

  1. Sadly, every exposed point is true. Codemasters loose a marvelous chance to make PvMP a really interesting part of this game, as I’ve said in another post. Now, Turbine easily can’t get PvMP and to twist it entirely… ‘cos this would mean a while project that they don’t have in mind.

    But what if games like Guild Wars 2 forces the situation? PvP is working pretty good there (or I’ve been said this from kinnies and known people), so many PvMP players left LOTRO for going there. RoR changes will mean that they’ll be back? Honestly, I’m not sure about it. Since both sides stay unbalanced, and without equal chance to upgrade, I’m not optimist.

    ‘Cos being clear… you, that is reading this… wouldn’t you love to play a Dark Cleric of the Eye and to travel across Middle Earth as if you do with your Loremaster (for giving an example)? Or to have an Assassin that works like a Burglar, but more focused on certain skills or more specialized on certain races? To be evil is nice, and funnier than to be a good boy (sometimes)!

    Turbine’s staff, think about this… ‘cos maybe the future of your game can depend of this!

    08/10/2012 at 2:29 am

  2. Bloodspill

    A lot of very good points in these 2 posts, a little depressing at times but still true. I would argue however that there is a PvMP community, perhaps small but still there. My tribe on Eldar is made up of people who only play creep side and for most 90% or more of Lotro their time is spent in the Ettenmoors and there are others on the server who are simalar. Some (like me) have been playing creep for five years or more. We do have a community and it is that which mainy have indicated as one of the reasons they haven’t given up on PvMP altogether.

    The RoR changes are incouraging and I hope to see more in the future as you have described. Just because PvMP is a side game dosn’t mean it couldnt be very profitable and allow the community to strenghten and grow.

    08/10/2012 at 12:01 pm

  3. BiteMarks

    Couldn’t have put both articles any better then you have done here.

    Wish Turbine and the dev team could read this and take a look at themselves in the mirror. Ettens could be a huge cashcow for Turbine if they really wanted it to be. There is and still are active long serving PvMP players that wold welcome some much wanted updates to the creepside to make us more worthwile, more fun, and more on a level par with freeps.

    Even giving us our own trait lines, our own legendary weapons would be a fun and interesting start. Yes, we’d all love a new map to explore and enjoy but RoR is a start and one we all hope will be the beginning of some good worthwile updates.

    *crosses Paws in the hope Devs do read this site and see there are real players just wanting some love……

    08/10/2012 at 3:21 pm

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