31 October, 2006
PvP tends to be a touchy subject. People with bad flashbacks of UO shiver at the mere mention of PvP. However, not all PvP must be in the form of combat between players or groups. Many games, even games that heavily restrict PvP combat, have competitions between players that fall in the realm of PvP.
I’ll talk about two obvious ones: Rankings and Economics.
One of the most basic was for people to compete is in rankings. EverQuest 2, for example, tracks various statistics for each player: how many monsters killed, how many times they have died, ratio of kills to deaths, number of quests finished, etc. Players can compete against each other in these rankings on their own server and even game-wide. Games should be tracking most of this information for internal use, anyway, so it should be easy to put in tables to recognize people for their behavior.
Of course, in many cases the players who have played the longest have a significant advantage over newbie players; gaining a meaningful position can be difficult if not impossible for new players. In some cases, measuring ranking over a limited amount of time can be more useful: most monsters killed in a certain week, most quests completed in one level, etc.
Note that whatever is measured will be explicitly encouraged by the game. This means that if the game measures and announces the number of kills, then people will do whatever they can to get the maximum number of kills to get a better ranking. The design of a game must carefully consider what is rewarded and if that is a behavior that should be strongly encouraged.
Almost every game has players competing against each other through the economy. Players who try to sell in-game goods or services to other players compete with each other. Knowing how to operate a business means dealing with competitors. The most direct competition is on price, but players can compete on other merits as well.
With the introduction of auction house in games, economic PvP has become more commonplace in games. Although players do not complain about this as much, it can have a significant impact on the game. A player with more business savvy can accumulate more resources than another player, which can cause some hurt feelings.
There are many other forms of PvP in games besides these. Not everything has to come down to combat, even in a combat-focused game.
What examples of non-combat PvP can you think of?