Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Server Switch: From Core to Open

You may recall that when WAR launched, I wrote a brief entry about my server angst. Basically, I was conflicted about which server type to roll (Core or Open) and whether or not we should choose one of the high population CE Head Start servers or start on a fresh server. In the end, we decided to choose Core Ruleset and one of the recently launched servers.

My mistake.

Core Ruleset
One thing I never noticed in the WAR preview or Open Beta is that some PQs are shared between factions.

The best example of this is in Chapter 3 of the Dwarf/Greenskin area. Both sides compete for Stage 1 and the “winning” side gets to move on to Stage 2. We joined a guild on the server fairly early on while doing some RvR in Tier 1 and while doing the PQs later that night – that’s when I noticed nearby enemy faction that were invulnerable due to the server setting.

I completely missed the boat on this because my understanding was that it was impossible to get to the same area without at least one of us flagging RvR. Unfortunately, that’s not true and our guild ended up in a “kill faster” competition with another guild to complete the PQ. Neat – but it certainly was pretty far removed from the brawl I would have expected in a PvP based game.

I wrote the following in my prior article: ” A big part of what I enjoy about “ganking” is coming across my prey by chance. It’s my belief the only areas where I would “chance” upon enemy players in an Open ruleset would be in areas that are already deemed RvR in the Core ruleset.”

So here I am – coming across players by chance – and they aren’t flagged RvR. Even worse, this was becoming increasingly more common. You should have heard the grumbling I received from my friends in Vent.

Fresh Server or just a Bad Server Name
The only thing worse than not being able to kill people is having no one to play with at all. I was lucky enough to be in a moderately active guild, but whenever I was alone…I was really really alone.

We rolled Order on a fresh server in anticipation of avoiding queues and we found a mostly empty world. We even chose a server name that would seem less popular. I think that part had as much to play in the debacle as anything else. Ironfist, which opened at the same time, has a decidedly cool sounding name and was at “full” capacity during prime time on the first day.

Either way, these so-called short scenario queues for Order didn’t exist. If you only have a handful of people in the zone in the first place, it doesn’t really matter that the Destruction side is brimming with people ready to play. More often than not, we were waiting for more players ON OUR SIDE to queue for the scenario.

The Re-Roll
And so we decided it was better to re-roll now than waiting until we hit Rank 40. A big debate ensued about Order vs. Destruction. I continued to lobby hard for Order – only this time on a much more populated server. My theory being that if we can get a server that is mostly full than population imbalance would eventually become a non-issue.

We also decided on an Open ruleset server. This server type is not without it’s challenges and flaws, but I am already finding it to be the more enjoyable server type.

Spur of the moment PvP
Core ruleset is clearly in the opt-in PvP camp. I never ran into one situation in the Core ruleset where I had to fight for my life when I didn’t want (or at least expect) to be fighting for my life. This is wonderful when you are trying to get things done but it also lacks the element of spontaneity and surprise. It’s a good ruleset for someone who likes to minimize distractions or interference with how they play the game. This ruleset is certainly an important one for the game because it allows players who only want to opt-into PvP to—well, opt-in into it.

I fall into the camp where parts of open world PvP are just more fun when they are unexpected. The chaos that ensues when you are just trying to get something done and it erupts into a mini-war is incredibly enjoyable to me. It’s not always about winning – sometimes, it’s just about the brawl. Good or bad, this just doesn’t exist in the Core ruleset.

There are some pretty noticeable challenges with the Open ruleset. It’s not perfect and it is certainly flawed in several ways. For me, it’s better than Core but is still noticeably broken.

Open ruleset and population imbalance
The most obvious flaw results from population imbalance. As most people have read, Destruction outnumbers Order. Scenario queues (like WoW battlegrounds) are short for Order and long for Destruction. Destruction owns many of the World RvR objectives, but Order can take any objective with a bit of organization. Order is also seemingly winning a lot more Scenarios.

On a Core ruleset, Destruction players complain about not having anyone to fight. On an Open ruleset, they come and FIND you. Order PQs that are close to roads and Destruction Warcamps are popular places for Destruction players itching to kill some Order.

There is one PQ in Tier 2 Empire that is just brutally assaulted on a regular basis. Destruction can set themselves up there and basically act almost as a roadblock. I actually end up circumventing the area by going into the RvR area because it’s safer. This is a bit frustrating at times, but they are avoidable.

The chicken problem
A number of people were concerned about being locked out of content in an Open ruleset server because of the so-called chicken problem. The basic idea being that since Open ruleset is RvR everywhere, there are no areas where you wouldn’t be an easily killable chicken once you out-leveled the Tier.

Mythic put the question up for feedback during Open Beta. The problem was that there was no Open ruleset servers in Open Beta, so the feedback gathered was really only based on what people expected rather than directly experienced. Moreover, everyone got to voice an opinion on the matter not just the ones who actually intended to join the ruleset.

Mythic “listened” to the feedback and adjusted the ruleset so that players one tier above can drop down to the previous tier without turning into a chicken.

The Result: Many (if not most) players fight one Tier lower than the intended Tier that they should be fighting on. This is pretty ugly with Level 20 players on Horses and mounts capturing objectives intended for levels 8-11. And you can’t fault them – because they don’t really stand a chance when the Tier 2 zones have players several levels above them.

This change either shouldn’t have been implemented or restricted to 5 levels. In other words, a level 11 player might be able to kill a level 16 but stands no chance at killing a level 20. Five extra levels would have been enough to allow a player to go back and do content as needed. I largely blame this problem on the fact that no one had an opportunity to even play on an Open server until after release. Big mistake.

So with such flaws, why bother with Open ruleset?
Remember that shared PQ I described earlier? The one where we ended up “racing for kills” in order to finish Stage 1 first? Now, let me paint a similar situation I experienced on the Open ruleset.

My buddies and I are over in Chapter 7 of the Dwarf lands when we run across another one of these shared PQs. When we started, Order was down 12 kills to 60 kills and I believe around 100 were needed to start Stage 2.

We manage to kill a few PQ mobs and then we ran across the group of Destruction who had gotten it to 60. We got slaughtered. We kept at it for a bit and slowly a few more Order players joined us. After a bit, we were slaughtering the Destruction. We ended up holding them to 76 kills and unlocked Stage 2.

It was Pure Win and one of the most memorable and enjoyable experiences in WAR I have had. Annoying asshats aside, this type of thing is exactly the reason why I think I finally found a server home on an Open ruleset server.

1 comment:

ScytheNoire said...

Only issue with Open RvR is that it cuts you off of some content, such as the hidden lairs that have a level 40 boss in them, but are located in Tier 1 and 2. That will suck to miss those.