Friday, September 5, 2008

Mistaken Identity: WAR servers are not WoW servers

Overly Positive had a humorous read earlier this week titled “A Fireside Chat With WAR Server Types” in which the two server types argue with each other about which one is superior. It’s a fun read and I recommend taking a look when you get a chance.

The topic got me pondering what kind of actual differences we can expect in the server types once Warhammer: Online goes live. This is actually a pretty serious topic since the server type you choose might be a decision you live with for a long time.

A quick search at the TheWarWiki offered up these descriptions:

Core: Players are only able to attack other players when flagged in special RvR areas, contested zones, or by manually flagging themselves.

Open: Players are able to attack other players anywhere they may encounter them. (except chapter 1 hubs and capital cities)

In either ruleset, you are flagged RvR if you travel to the enemy faction. In a Core ruleset, you are flagged until you return to your faction. During this time, you are fair game for the opposite side to kill. However, while they can kill you, you can’t kill them unless attacked. In an Open ruleset, you CAN kill them. That’s the difference.

At first glance, the Core ruleset appears very similar to PvE servers in Warcraft. Likewise, the Open ruleset draws comparison to PvP servers. On closer examination, it struck me that making such a comparison is a really drastic mistake.

It’s the PvP, stupid!
WAR is a PvP based game that places a heavy emphasis on open world RvR. The PvP conflict is an integral part to not just the end-game, but the entire leveling experience. By contrast, the World of Warcraft PvP system is largely non-existent in the open world and most PvP is of the instanced variety found in battlegrounds and arenas.

Now from what I understand, all zones in Warhammer are divided into two factions that are separated by an area flagged RvR. In the highest tiers, upwards of 80% of the zone is flagged RvR.

In other words, on a Core server, all high level zones have a small area (10%) that is faction specific to you where you can’t be killed and a small area (10%) where the enemy faction is safe. The remaining 80% of the zone is flagged for open world PvP. Does that description of a Core ruleset sound even remotely like a WoW PvE server?

Applied to the WoW zones, this would best be described as all of Outland being flagged PvP, except for towns and a couple of quest hubs. Umm... Which server type does that sound like to you? Because it sure as hell doesn’t sound like a PvE server.

In fact, the Core server ruleset is far more similar to the WoW PvP server ruleset – with one very notable exception: If you enter a zone you outrank, you are turned into a chicken.

The Open ruleset
The Open ruleset just takes it step further by allowing you to initiate an attack in the small areas where such attacks are not normally allowed. The chicken thing doesn’t go away (perhaps it should), so it’s not like you can travel to a lowbie zone on a ganking spree even if you wanted.

So why an Open ruleset? Three simple reasons: Mayhem. Anarchy. Grief.

The Open ruleset will attract players who purposefully want to attack you in areas that are deemed “off-limits” under the rules of Core ruleset. Players whose joy is not necessarily in the brawl, but in the mayhem, anarchy and grief they can cause in the process.

This isn’t an entirely bad thing.

Before you get all judgmental, remember that you have a choice. You CHOOSE to play on an Open ruleset server. If you choose not to – well then, don’t pass judgment on how other people seek enjoyment. The important thing to remember is that the people experiencing the things you see as negatives also chose to play by those rules. If it helps, think of it like “Escape from New York” where all the criminals are thrown in together to make their own society and world (except the criminals volunteered).

My choice
On a more personal note, I am still struggling with which server type is best for me. A part of me is certainly attracted to mayhem and chaos, but another part of me thinks the Core ruleset is simply a more enjoyable design. In the end, I think I’ll choose a Core ruleset for no other reason than because I believe it will attract a more mature player.

Snafzg raised an excellent point on Keen's blog in favor of Open ruleset. I'm back to 50-50 and solidly in the undecided column.

Snafzg's point is that being flagged 100% of the time means that someone who is not flagged can't just wait until the best opportunity to gank you. Syncaine actually wrote an article about similar situations in WoW PvE servers. His point was more-or-less that PvE server players make the worst kind of griefers.

I still stand by my earlier statement about Open ruleset attracting players who enjoy Mayhem, Anarachy and Grief. After all, any player willing to risk traveling into those zones is looking for a little mayhem. Perhaps not grief, but certainly mischief ;>


Anonymous said...

Also important to remember that on an Open server in WAR, people will be LOOKING for the other faction in quest areas, while in WoW even on a PvP server people still tried to grind quests without care.

It's a tough call for sure, but I think the fact that at the higher tiers, it's almost all RvR anyway, makes me lean towards a Core server. The really tough part is I've never actually seen tier 4, so I don't know if the 20% that's NOT RvR is just the towns, or very key PvE areas that you spend 90% of your time in.

jjgchetsu said...

I think I will be going core unless there are some changes to the Open system for 2 main reasons.

1) No Bolster in Open RvR on Open servers only in scenarios. Not only does this introduce lots of mismatches in Open RvR but with all the NPC's in keeps and guarding battlefield objectives being at max rank for the Tier you needed bolster if you didn't want to get 1 shot by them. This will basically lock you out these core features of the RvR until you level up close to the Tier cap.

2)Diluded RvR action. If you managed to hit T2 during PW or PW+ you know how deserted it is starting out in a new tier. Having concentrated areas to focus on for RvR really helps in these cases when the populations get somewhat spread out due to different leveling speed. Some people look at this as a positive because they really dislike zerg vs. zerg but I'll take that over not being able to find anyone to fight anyday.