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Brigand

PvE Activities in an Open World

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PvE and PvP have both been mentioned a lot in several other threads. Almost all the people frequenting these forums are (mainly) interested in PvP. Some people have been expressing doubts that PvE (and related NPC entities) should even be part of the game at all.

 

At the same time, many people have indicated that they themselves have no idea about PvE because they tried to avoid it in other games if at all possible. PvE has more than once been described as being the equal of grinding; something sour you need to go through to get to the sweet stuff.

 

Yet, many also recognize that if you take a look at other MMOs, PvP players are only a small (but vocal) percentage of the player base (10% - 15% is a commonly quoted number).

 

My opinion is that PvE and PvP cannot live without each other. It may be a challenge, but they definitely should be able to strengthen each other.

 

To help us all further, let's collect a list of ideas of PvE activities. Preferable the enjoyable (least bad, if you prefer) PvE stuff. I'm sure we can come up with positive ideas!

 

The main PvE categories can be described as 'missions', 'resource gathering', 'crafting', 'trading' and which ones did I miss?

The big question for this thread is to describe 'good' missions, 'interesting' examples of resource gathering, etc.

 

Cheers,

Brigand

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I think you hit the nail on the head.  PvE activities in an age of sail game can be boiled down to:

 

  • Hauling stuff from point A to point B.
  • Crafting stuff.
  • Blowing stuff up.
  • Running from PvPers.
  • Finding the Philosopher's Stone.  :D

But what mechanics can be instituted to make these activities more dynamic, less repetitive?

 

Mission Givers

 

Make reputation in a nation tied to specific NPCs, acting as figureheads within that nation's society.  You might have your reputation for Britain broken up between 4 NPCs, each with a different set of missions.

 

  • Minister of Defense -- Hires your ship and your crew to supplement the navy in wartime, essentially making you a privateer.
  • Naval Admiral --  Hires your ship and crew as a scout for the main fleet, or support craft for bigger vessels.
  • Shipping Magnate -- Sends you on exotic spice runs, convoy escort.
  • Nobility -- Has overseas interests in specific towns and their prosperity, charges you with supplying ports with needed goods.

 

Each NPC would have vastly different rewards for missions completed, possibly a minor storyline as your reputation climbs.

 

Resource Gathering

 

What the hell do we wanna go to Texas for and haul beer back here?  What is that?

For the good, old American life.  For the money.  For the glory, and for the fun.  Mostly for the money.

 

If the town mechanic goes off like I hope it does, town population will CONSUME basic neccessities like food and drink.  If players try to boost the labor force too quickly before the town can support such a population, there will be a food shortage.  If the level of food in the town reaches any kind of 'critical level', then the rewards for bringing in goods should carry better rewards.

 

Crafting

 

Variety, variety variety.

 

There were very few markets in POTBS.  Ammunition, consumables, ship deeds.  That was it.  You couldn't make clothing or weapons, amoung other things.  And there wasn't enough variety in the markets to 'corner' something.  Nobody ever said:  'If you want a Bermuda Sloop, go see Compass Rose'.  They did however, say:  'When you see Compass Rose, bring your checkbook.'

 

Allow enough complexity in the crafting so that you have markets that become their own meta-games.  Everybody wanted to be a shipbuilder in POTBS because that was the ONLY thing complex enough to be its own meta-game.

 

If the crafting is done right, then markets like textiles, metalworking, agriculture, brewing, provisioning, and logging should be interesting enough to want to specialize in.

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As far as blowing stuff up goes, I think pve should present an actual challenge and risk. In potbs the npcs were so dumb as to present no challenge at all and so it becomes the grind.

I think a variety of ai "personality" types could create an element of the unknown, and I think the challenge should be high. The rewards could match the risk accordingly. It should not be possible for a single ship to take on a small fleet all alone as it is in potbs. Being outnumbered in pve should make me nervous and possibly dead if I don't keep my wits.

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I hope for a game that is as much fun in solo PvE as Mount & Blade.

 

That is a realistic goal because M&B is a lightweight game with a small dev team, and it didn't take a massive amount of effort to create a simple yet dynamic basis for PvE that never could be called grinding.

 

The foundation for an MMO was already there, actually. M&B-style gameplay simply begs to have deeper player coordination, management and battles installed on top of it.

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I hope for a game that is as much fun in solo PvE as Mount & Blade.

 

Could you describe what it is that makes the Mount & Blade PvE a good experience?

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Could you describe what it is that makes the Mount & Blade PvE a good experience?

The gameworld exists utterly independent of you. It doesn't care about you. Nothing is matched to your level. There is simply a world filled with factions, kings, nobles, armies, castles, bandits, biomes, villages and towns. They all have their own economies and diplomacy and carry out trade and war with each other, spawning the appropriate parties of armed and unarmed NPCs to roam the map. Except for the clashes of noble armies, none of NPC interactions particularly matter (AFAIK), but they nevertheless provide a constantly-changing context for the player's actions, populating the world with a huge array of potential allies and enemies from every level of challenge and reward.

 

You have to carefully build up your own skills and strengths by picking your goals and battles (there are distinct regions that matter, but nothing designed to coddle or exclude you based on level), and then begin taking part in the world as merchant or mercenary or bandit or noble general (only the most obvious archetypes).

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I didn't remember quest that i loved in potbs but some were not so bad as the one were we need to recue some ships or find treasure.

We have to make pve quest into a pvp area to involve both part of the games pve and pvp. Pve without any risk is boring and with npc and just them it's often hard to feel any stress due of their stupidity

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As far as blowing stuff up goes, I think pve should present an actual challenge and risk. In potbs the npcs were so dumb as to present no challenge at all and so it becomes the grind.

I think a variety of ai "personality" types could create an element of the unknown, and I think the challenge should be high. The rewards could match the risk accordingly. It should not be possible for a single ship to take on a small fleet all alone as it is in potbs. Being outnumbered in pve should make me nervous and possibly dead if I don't keep my wits.

 

This. I've said before that I always go into an MMO from a PvP point of view. That's what I enjoy. But as Brigand said in the OP, pvp and pve really need to be interlinked for either to be meaningful in an MMO. So how can we make PvE meaningful, and avoid the classic 'PvE = grind' result? Answer - make it challenging. The major problem with PvE in any game I've yet played is simply that PvE was too easy. PotBS, as has been said already, was a prime example of this. The AI wandered aimlessly around and occasionally shot a few cannonballs at you if you happened to wander into their firing arcs. The only time it ever got remotely challenging (and I use the term very loosely) was when the AI was broken in one of the patches and got vast group buffs stacking on them. Even then, it was so easy to split the AI apart there was really no challenge to it. One player, even in a 1st rate, should never really be able to reliably take on 4+ ships and be expected to win (yes I did just randomly pick the number 4).

 

Making the AI such that attacking even a small group of ships required tactics and planning would bring meaning, challenge and above all, risk to pve based game play - something that has been seriously lacking in my experience. Added to this, I think it would also lessen the 'pve vs pvp' divide that we've seen, particularly in games such as PotBS, simply by virtue of both styles incorporating a challenge.

 

The gameworld exists utterly independent of you. It doesn't care about you. Nothing is matched to your level. There is simply a world filled with factions, kings, nobles, armies, castles, bandits, biomes, villages and towns. They all have their own economies and diplomacy and carry out trade and war with each other, spawning the appropriate parties of armed and unarmed NPCs to roam the map. Except for the clashes of noble armies, none of NPC interactions particularly matter (AFAIK), but they nevertheless provide a constantly-changing context for the player's actions, populating the world with a huge array of potential allies and enemies from every level of challenge and reward.

 

You have to carefully build up your own skills and strengths by picking your goals and battles (there are distinct regions that matter, but nothing designed to coddle or exclude you based on level), and then begin taking part in the world as merchant or mercenary or bandit or noble general (only the most obvious archetypes).

 

You make some reasonable points here, but I have to say, I totally disagree with you when you say this would be a good template. I'll admit it's been some time since I played M&B for any reasonably length of time, but in my experience I found M&B open world game play utterly horrible. I'll try to explain why as best I can point by point below:

 

1. You're correct when you say that the open world doesn't care about you, but I see this as an absolutely horrible mechanic. IMO, the point of a game, solo or mp, is to have some noticeable effect on the world. How you go about this is an entirely different matter, and rather too complex to discuss here. But my main point here is that to build a SP game where it takes a VAST amount of time and grinding (I'll come back to this in a minute) to have any noticeable effect on the world is, in my opinion, a very poor idea.

 

2.  The one point I agree with you on - "There is simply a world filled with factions, kings, nobles, armies, castles, bandits, biomes, villages and towns. They all have their own economies and diplomacy and carry out trade and war with each other, spawning the appropriate parties of armed and unarmed NPCs". This is a great mechanic, and feeds in nicely with what I believe ICE_MAN suggested in his 'Inane NPCs' thread. The world needs to be such that every unit spawned has a purpose - be it trade between ports or war with AI of other hostile factions / pirate hunters.

 

3. "You have to carefully build up your own skills and strengths by picking your goals and battles (there are distinct regions that matter, but nothing designed to coddle or exclude you based on level), and then begin taking part in the world as merchant or mercenary or bandit or noble general (only the most obvious archetypes)". Yes, you have to specialise. No question about that. But, following on from point 1, how do you build up those skills to the point where you had any noticeablle effect on the world (even if that effect was a few more hunting parties kicking about. Answer - you had to grind bandits. Then grind more bandits. And some more. And then maybe a caravan if you're bored of bandits. You get the idea. It was grind.

 

Now, before I'm accused of suggesting that the world should change according to the actions of every new player in a fishing boat, of course the change should always be proportionate to the action. But the core of everything I'm trying to say here really boils down to two main points:

 

  • The AI needs to be smart, both in terms of purpose and combat. This makes PvE more challenging, and thus vastly improves replay-ability - no-one likes to be bored, after all.
  • The AI alone can form the world, but it must be heavily influenced by and responsive to the player. Example - if Britain and France have gone to war, why would two AI fleets of those nationalities just sail past each other? PvE would be so much more interesting if a player could come across AI engaging each other, no?

I've rather ignored crafting in all this. I don't personally consider crafting in the 'PvE' category. It's bigger than that. Crafting is influenced by everything. PvE forms a part of it, and of course influences it (in terms of hauling, for example), but I will leave crafting to more experienced eco-warriors than myself (looking at you, Compass!)

 

I think that'll do for one post. I'll post some more shortly.

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Addition to the Original Post

 

I was hoping to collect thoughts on immersive PvE activities, examples from other games, your own original ideas, etc. Right now, the thread collects post with snippets of 'what I would [not] like to see', this is interesting to read, but different from what I hoped for :)

 

I've got a pretty complete idea in my head for intertwining PvE and PvP. On that would make the both become a symbiosis, where each player can do what he/she loves best and still love the other player for doing something completely different. But, my own imagination is offcourse limited, so I started this thread to collect additional ideas for PvE activities, with the intent of merging them into my idea (which would be posted in the your ideal long term gameplay thread.

 

Anyhow, thanks for the replies so far!

 

Brigand

 

*update*

Nice post Wildfire, I wrote my response before reading yours.

Edited by Brigand
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I've got a pretty complete idea in my head for intertwining PvE and PvP. On that would make the both become a symbiosis, where each player can do what he/she loves best and still love the other player for doing something completely different.

You hit the nail on the head there Brigand. In PotBS the recurring arguement between the "carebears" and the pvp'ers is unending. Pvp'ers hate the carebears and the Carebears think Pvp'ers are arrogant. They don't "love" each other. There is no meaningful symbiotic relationship between them. All paths need to have a meaningful contribution to the overall goals of the game.

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. You're correct when you say that the open world doesn't care about you, but I see this as an absolutely horrible mechanic. IMO, the point of a game, solo or mp, is to have some noticeable effect on the world. How you go about this is an entirely different matter, and rather too complex to discuss here. But my main point here is that to build a SP game where it takes a VAST amount of time and grinding (I'll come back to this in a minute) to have any noticeable effect on the world is, in my opinion, a very poor idea.

Those are too utterly different things. The M&B gameworld did not revolve around the player, living its own life. ...until you became Field Marshall or even King. You absolutely could effect the gameworld, by taking cities and castles and winning wars. And if you think that any one player is going to be able to have a similar effect in an MMO, you are seriously mistaken. A cog in the machine is what you'll be.

 

. Yes, you have to specialise. No question about that. But, following on from point 1, how do you build up those skills to the point where you had any noticeablle effect on the world (even if that effect was a few more hunting parties kicking about. Answer - you had to grind bandits. Then grind more bandits. And some more. And then maybe a caravan if you're bored of bandits. You get the idea. It was grind.

In this game you will be limited to one ship rather than collecting fleets, so the admittedly halting process of army building in M&B cannot pose a threat by example. But I have to wonder whether your definition of grinding might tar any and all RPG-style mechanics with one brush.

 

Anyways, the part of my description that you agreed with encompassed 95% of what I want Naval Action to mimic in M&B, so there's not much point arguing the secondary points.

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I was reading Wildfire's post and initially thought that most ideas were designed to make PvE more enjoyable but not necessarily more meaningful to the greater game, but then I read the reference to the "Inane NPC" thread and I thought that their really was something here.

 

PvE in my definition excludes Merchant's who will obviously have a purpose. PvE players for me, refers to those who wish to only do non pvp activities such as missions, exploring, killing NPCs and such. So how do we make these things meaningful to the goals of the game. I have a few ideas.

 

1. Missions - There could be "port" missions that benefit the society that controls that port, the port itself, and the individual. Fun personal gameplay that also contributes to the success of others.

2. Exploring - If the game grows to a world map then exploration could be meaningful. A society set up in one part of the map probably won't make it to the other side of the world that often. I could envision society diplomats(explorers) being sent out by societies to locate lucrative trade routes and relationships.

3. Killing NPCs - As talked about in the Inane NPC thread, NPCs should have purpose. This could be, at least, partially attained by having govenors of ports commit port resources to hiring NPCs for different tasks. Population growth, skilled workers, trade. If a port needs population, either the players can accept missions to transport people to the port or the gov hires NPC groups to compliment the players. Ships would then spawn and travel to ports with this task in mind. PvE players could attack these NPC's without risk of pvp to slow or halt a ports attempt to grow.

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Possible missions....Delivering VIP passengers, envoys, spies also capturing VIP passengers.   These missions could be quick or might involve chasing a specific ship to the far side of the world.

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The balance of PVE and PVP isn't an easy task, but it can be done.

As some members have said, NPCs cannot, and shouldn't be sitting ducks, even if they're sailing 1st rates! A prime example is fleeting in Potbs, my Valiant, which is a 3rd rate, could take on a resupply fleet consisted of 4 La Couronnes, some Mordaunts, one or two 1st rates and several frigates. It did take time, but it's doable.

This kind of battle should be an impossible battle to win for the player! Yet, you find yourself doing that over and over, an activity that is called grinding.

PVE can easily turn into grinding, unless, the AI is dynamic and challenging, using everything to defeat the player! This would also lessen the gap between PVE and PVP, as the player needs to develop and employ tactics against the AI, thus, being more PVP capable. But that's another topic.

The best is to add as many activities as possible, to add variety and roles to players. Several activities have been suggested by other members already, I cannot think of an example.

And make the AI a mean and tough to kill adversary.

Just these two measures should fix the biggest part of the problem that is grinding in MMO's

Just my 2 cents

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In this game you will be limited to one ship rather than collecting fleets

Have they actually said that?

 

If so I oppose!

It may be historically accurate but limits my ability to play the game. This is what it would mean,

     I would have to make more than one toon. I couldn't just focus on one, especially if I'm in the Navy.

     I would be limited in the game by that one ship. i.e. if I had a third rate I would pretty much be limited to local waters and fleet actions which will probably be rarer.

     The friends I make in the game would probably fall along the lines of what ship I have. Ill be grouping most likely with people of my "kind" and rarely the others.

     If I aspired to a 1st or 2nd rate then I would pretty much confine myself to a small area of the map, as sailing around the world would be overly troublesome.

     A person who generally likes to fight in small ships against pirates will never be able to experience a fleet battle.

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In this game you will be limited to one ship rather than collecting fleets, (...).

This is meant as: in this game, you will be in command of a ship instead of a fleet of ships. It has nothing to do with the number of ships your captain could sail, just that he will only be sailing one at the time.

~Brigand

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This is meant as: in this game, you will be in command of a ship instead of a fleet of ships. It has nothing to do with the number of ships your captain could sail, just that he will only be sailing one at the time.

~Brigand

ty for the clarification. I forget sometimes that there are games out there that are set up that way. I've been playing PotBS for so long.

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I'd argue that the dichotomy between PvE and PvP for any naval game is a false one. The POTBS model is silly, frankly. Silent Hunter is what "PvE" should be like to actually play (caveats below).

 

Merchant units would go from place to place as merchants, buy and sell if players, targets with cargo for capture as prizes (some with escorts, much like convoy traffic in SH). Warships would go where their orders demanded, etc. That's PvE, the environment is shipping, and in this time period there was rather a lot of shipping around. Coasters, fishing smacks, etc. For naval units it is not as complicated. They patrol, they take on supplies, etc. Limited "missions," and hence easier for a small game to start with. Note that patrols can very well involve checking papers, and taking prizes (many prizes were little more than fishing smacks anyway). The PvP component could be done in a novel way that no game has yet done to my knowledge. All of us play out "shoebox" games as per the above 'SH-like model, complete with time compression (how else to sail from Portsmouth to Port Royal?), and when an encounter happens ("Ahoy, deck! 2 sail fine on the larboard beam, cap'n. Looks french, sir.") the game looks for NA players online. Any not currently involved in PvP can be dropped into the role of these 2 new units the player spotted. The game might have decided before hand that these are enemy ships, and let the "guest" player(s) spot the player first, even.

 

The "shoebox" exists to create interesting scenarios in a "real" context. Players can load up the game and be in PvP without even playing their own shoebox if they like. They'll "get what they get" in terms of ships to command, and gain experience in PvP.

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Any not currently involved in PvP can be dropped into the role of these 2 new units the player spotted.

 

Now that's a FASCINATING idea. A persistent open-world MMO... with instant action matchmaking.

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That's the idea. The trouble is that everyone doesn't share the same world since all the games are running day-night cycles that vary (with start date, with player choice of time compression, etc).

 

You avoid the unreality of players responding to a naval engagement that should happen weeks from their port in minutes, however, and can have realistic small unit actions (a long chase, for example). Any MMO solution where people are together in a persistent world will be hugely unrealistic due to the forced time compression, there's just no way around it.

 

Myself, I'd prefer PvP where it matters, ship/ship interactions, and single player where it is best single player---everything that is not combat.

 

Think of "economics." In PvP economics, players will quickly figure out ways to game/farm the system. RL economies are incredibly complex as we all know (since no RL economists can actually model economies accurately, why should game designers have more luck?). At least in single-player mode, the devs can limit economic considerations to a manageable number of variables, and things will be predictable in a way they wish it to be. In player economies, if the devs decide to tweak it, people who have farmed some fortune get POed when their finances get altered by a fix. Better to avoid that altogether, IMHO.

 

People under my suggested system might have a "PvP Preferences" setting that allows them to prefer:

Country

Service (merchant, navy, etc)

Ship sizes (might be some sort of rank distinction here, with the carrot that as a "guest" playing in another person's game you can try bigger ships than you have access to in your own game)

 

The server would try and match people based on preferences, but you get what is available if nothing matches: you might prefer French Navy and be offered a slot as a British merchant ship that just spotted what looks to be a French Brig on the horizon, take it or leave it. With enough players, you could have a "campaign" going and PvP as opponent in other people's games as much as you like, never touching your own campaign.

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