Let’s look at a simple mathematical formula.
PvE + (PvP + Achievement) = Drama
Okay, so it’s a silly formula. But I want to use it to illustrate a point.
At the moment there is a lot of unhappiness going around within the game because there are players that love PvP resentful of PvE players, and there are players that love PvE resentful of PvP players.
All of it is coming from friction between the two cultures over Achievements.
At it’s heart, this does come from a core design of World of Warcraft.
WoW consists of two seperate, distinct cultures; PvE and PvP.
WoW seems to be two seperate games in one.
Players of the game may truly love both aspects of WoW equally, but within the rules of the game, they are handled and managed seperately.
You often hear about transforming behavior and motivating people through leading by example. In this case, the example we all follow is how PvE and PvP are set up, and the ways they are intentionally kept seperate (but where possible, equal).
What do I mean about seperate cultures by design? My point of view on this is directly relevant to my final point, so I’d like to explain.
In PvE, Player vs Environment, what is the goal?
The goal of PvE is to overcome challenges against AI controlled NPCs by working cooperatively with other players as part of a coordinated team.
In PvE raid design, no single person is of greater importance than another, because victory is not complete until the entire team successfully defeats the challenge.
The player with the highest healing or damage on meters does not get bonus Emblems, gold or items. There is no MVP recognized by the game. Group wipe? Then group fail.
In PvE, the only true measure of success that makes world first headlines is “Boss downed”. When that boss is downed, it is the team that gets the well-deserved credit. All else is chest beating irrelevance.
Focused fire on a single target, coordinated movement out of AoE effects while maintaining unit seperation, synchronized tanking/taunting/kiting to handle adds and spawns or stacking debuffs, heals with multiple cleansing/CCing/debuffing duties, etc. Teamwork and prior proper planning to prevent piss poor performance.
What about PvP (Player vs Player)? How is it any different?
In PvP, it’s all about personal excellence against other living, thinking, reacting and planning opponents.
Real people, fighting against each other and using every trick they can think of, all in a fluid combat environment that requires various Battlefield objectives be met for faction victory.
But whether or not your faction reigns supreme, the focus is entirely on personal accomplishments, on excellence in playing your own character as an individual.
The line may seem to get blurred a bit, because overall success or failure within the Battleground hinges on how many players to a side both kicked individual ass AND were able to work together towards these Battlefield objectives.
At the end of the battle, however, it’s not just win or lose for a side. No, in a PvP Battleground, there is a Leaderboard that pops up which breaks the results of the entire battle down into individual accomplishments.
The leaderboard does show information that relates to team play. Who captured or assaulted flags or towers, etc. But all of the information, including numbers of honorable kills, is clearly presented, by intentional design, to single out and recognize excellence in individual effort. To put things in a ”MVP” perspective.
Contrasting the two.
Those are the core differences between PvP and PvE. The difference in emphasis on teamwork recognition versus individual excellence.
Hey, sounds pretty good, right? Having the ability to play what is, in effect, two completely different game styles, each with very deep and exciting gameplay, using the same characters, and having the same games and relaxing opportunities for soloing and exploration and questing outside of these exciting challenges.
Oh, is it time for the guild to do the ICC raid? That’s fine, just let me finish this Wintergrasp battle and I’ll switch specs and gear and be right there!
Pretty cool. Pretty awesome. Brings a lot of replay value to the table.
So, that being established, on what points are the two cultures being brought into conflict?
There have always been, to some extent, conflict between avid fans of each of the two cultures. It’s the inevitable result of HAVING two seperate cultures with such a distinct difference in direction within the same game.
What’s brought things into heightened drama this time are the existence of Achievements in game that require active participation in both PvP and PvE content, Achievements that reward participation with highly desirable items (310% Speed Flying Mounts).
In a perfect World (of Warcraft)
Right now, the way it breaks down is that there are two Meta-Achievements that reward players with Proto-Drakes;
- What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been (From completing all World Event Achievements such as Children’s Week, Hallow’s End, Love Fool, etc for a 310% speed Violet Proto-Drake)
- Glory of the Hero (from completing all Heroic Dungeon Achievements such as Less-Rabi, Girl Loves to Skadi All The Time, etc for a 280% speed Red Proto-Drake)
As has been pointed out in the comments, there are also two raiding-based 310% flight speed mount achievements that are not part of this discussion.
Perception is very important to this topic.
The current perception of these two Achievements is that the Glory of the Hero Meta-Achievement is a teamwork based PvE reward, and What A Long, Strange Trip It’s Been is considered a mostly solo effort PvE reward that has some PvP uncomfortably shoehorned in.
Take a step back and distance yourself from the emotion of the situation. What does “What A long Strange Trip” really do? It consistently takes you not only to various places in the traditional PvE game world, but also into Battlegrounds to complete different PvP based objectives.
“What A Long, Strange Trip” has the feel of a Meta-Achievement designed to be an all-inclusive grab bag of a little bit of everything WoW has to offer. A little solo work, a little fed-ex questing, a little searching for a lucky drop, a little PvP, a little dungeon questing, a little world exploring.
Still standing back and looking at things dispassionately?
What I’d like to see is the acknowledgement of a THIRD culture within WoW.
We have talked about PvE, and PvP, but there is now, and has always been, a third culture within the game.
The World Explorer.
They are not particularly vocal, and rarely get attention, but you either are one, or know someone who is.
World Explorers do not particularly enjoy playing in small or large groups, which is pretty much 95% of end game content.
World Explorers do not particularly enjoy intense personal combat against other real players, which is PvP.
What World Explorers DO love is playing their characters and doing their own thing in World of Warcraft itself, adventuring, questing, exploring, leveling, learning, trying new things, and often once they get to max level, they lose interest in that character and switch to a new one, simply because they do not feel drawn to end game group activities.
Three cultures, not two.
I think the Meta-Achievements, again in a perfect world, should be changed to reflect the existence of three playstyles, and to benefit players that pursue their own chosen playstyle to the ultimate limit.
Keep Glory of the Hero the same. It is an excellent example of a teamwork/PvE based Meta-Achievement. But increase the reward to being 310% flight speed. The dedication needed to accomplish this Achievement is pretty impressive.
Modify What A Long, Strange Trip It’s Been to remove both dungeon and PvP aspects of the Meta-Achievement. Make it the Achievement for people that love and follow the playstyle of the World Explorer. Perhaps even tie in Loremaster and exporing all zone areas into it. Again, it should not be easy, it should represent the ultimate expression of following that cultures’ preferred playstyle. Keep it a 310% speed mount.
And then, show the PvP culture the respect they deserve by adding a brand new, completely PvP based Meta-Achievement that would reward them their own 310% speed mount. Perhaps the Ebony Proto-Drake.
Perhaps that is something Blizzard is already contemplating. I have no idea.
What I do know is that having three distinct Meta-Achievements tailored to each of three playstyle cultures makes a lot of sense to me, in direct response to the current game design, and the distinct preferences of the players involved.
So. That’s my dream for a perfect World.
Dealing with Harsh Reality.
Now that I’m done wishing in one hand, let’s move on to dealing with reality as it is (if you can call Achievements in a virtual world “reality”).
There is a lot of stress, a lot of unhappiness and a lot of drama in the game right now. Two cultures are in direct conflict.
For the purposes of the rest of this conversation, I am going to use the accepted “PvE” and “PvP” terms for two cultures, including World Explorers in the PvE group. It is the most commonly accepted and understood framework for the game. But you know what I mean. :)
For people that play PvP as their preferred playstyle, a playstyle that is equally valid and should be equally as respected as the others, this week SUCKS.
There you are playing the way you like, and the game design itself is sending people into your Battlegrounds that do not want to be there, and while they don’t want to get in your way, they really want that damn proto-drake.
So, an influx of the innocent, the ignorant, the confused and above all else the hopeful, just looking to duck in and get it done and get the hell out of the way of the people that belong there.
The people within your own faction will hate to see these people on their team, and will get pissed at them for the havok they cause. But PvP players have a term for PvE players when they’re on the opposing force.
I believe they’re called “farmable kills”.
For those of us among the World Exploring and PvE crowd, the first lesson to learn is, it’s all about individual achievement in PvP. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you will get steamrolled and die.
If you decide you want revenge, then just remember everyone had to start somewhere, and everyone gets pwned at some point. Get your fire up, reach deep down and find your intestinal fortitude, and devote yourself to learning how to fight back.
If you decide you just want to get your Achievements and be done with it though, please remember you are a visitor in someone else’s house.
Don’t be the player that zones in, get’s what you want for yourself and then bails on the run. Whether you do get your Achievement or not, please stick it out, do your best, and along the way why not try to learn to kick ass? Or at least support the ones that do.
Think about how it feels when it happens to you. You KNOW you see people do that in raids and dungeons all the time.
As an example, you go into a VoA pug, the group does the newest boss first, and as soon as he’s down and Frost/Drops are passed out, a bunch of people instantly drop group. After all, there’s nothing for THEM in the rest of the raid instance, so why should they stay? What, to help YOU out? Get real.
Selfish? Yes. After all, they needed you there to get them their shot at what they wanted. The difference is they aren’t willing to do the same thing for you. Selfish.
You see the same thing on a smaller scale during group runs like Love is in the Air, when people needed to get Roses as a boss drop. How many times during that week did you see or hear of groups forming, the first boss in Utgardt Keep killed, Roses needed and players instantly bail on the rest of the party.
It’s all the same thing. You don’t like people acting selfish when you are in a group to see it to the end and win, and neither do PvP focused players. They’re in there to win over the opposite faction, not sit there and swap capping Towers for 20 minutes.
I think it’s a fine testament to how polite and nice most players are, that when an Achievement week brings the ignorant flooding the Battlegrounds, a lot of PvP folks WILL drop what they’re normally doing and help.
What you need to really keep close to your heart is, you are the intruder in their turf. It’s their house. This is the part of the game THEY like.
When you visit someone else’s house, be polite, wipe your feet, don’t take a dump in their living room, and when you come for the party, even if all you wanted was free food and an open tap, you stay until it would be a polite time to leave, as in, after you get the Achievement, you stay and help KILL THE OTHER BASTARDS and win the match.
That being said, if you are a member of the PvP culture, please, I ask of you to make a few allowances this week for the clumsy and clueless that stumble into your house, drunk and dazed, looking for the bathroom, but who are perfectly willing to piss on the rug in the corner if they can’t find what they’re looking for.
I know it’s trying, and I know it’s annoying, but this is your opportunity to sucker people into thinking Battlegrounds are filled with fun people just looking for a good time, instead of the evil, malicious little bastards looking to gut yers in a dark alley like we all know you are.
Remember… “farmable kills”.
Just try and sympathize. These are people who have been working on their Meta-Achievement all year, and are already feeling stressed out at doing something totally unfamiliar. If they want to get the very, very nice reward at the end of this rainbow, they don’t have any choice but to try and complete the challenge Blizzard set.
In conclusion… until the day when the Achievements reflect our actual interests, all we can do is try and be civil and respectful to each other, remember that we want to treat other players how we’d like to be treated, make allowances to some extent, and above all else keep in mind…
It’s only for one week, and then we can all get on with our lives.
For myself… I tried for two days to do Alterac Valley. I looked at the stress everyone felt, the anger and frustration on both sides, and I made my decision for myself.
I am no longer going to pursue “What A Long, Strange Trip It’s Been”.
I’m going to mentally assign it the lable “PvP Meta-Achievement”, and I’m moving on.
I will instead set for myself the goal of completing, someday, “Glory of the Hero”, and work towards improving my teamwork and knowledge for that purely PvE related goal. Yes, even though it doesn’t reward you with a 310% speed mount as the game currently sits.
I hope that, even if you don’t agree with what I’ve said in this post, you’ll take the time to be a little more understanding during this chaos, on both sides.
None of us are out to intentionally screw up the others. It’s not personal. Give folks a chance, and they’ll be only too glad to get out of your hair.
My thanks for those folks who pointed out the inaccuracy concerning Red Proto Drake speed. It didn’t change my point at all, but leaving the mistake would have confused a whole lot of people, and I honestly did not know that.