Psychochild's Blog

A developer's musings on game development and writing.

4 August, 2008

Weekend Design Challenge: PvP Event
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 8:31 PM

I’ve started work with a team on an upcoming indie game, Secondhand Lands. It’s a quirky little game involving sheep and wolves supporting different factions in a land heavily influenced by fairy tales. There’s quite a few PvP elements in the game, living up to the wolves vs. sheep characters in the game.

This week, let’s consider some possible PvP events in the game. More details about the game and the requirements after the jump.

The goal is to create an even that focuses on PvP in the game. Given the interesting setting, there is a lot of room for creativity. It’s something that needs to be implemented before Open Beta early next month.

An existing event involves PvP-enabled players who are notified when a Pylon on the central island is activated. A nearby NPC, Squire Longstar, explains that the Pylon will bring Lord Sittish to the world. The players are supposed to work to stop it. They kill nearby quest monsters (or other players who have killed those quest monsters) to collect small crystals, then try to interact with the Pylon to shut it down. It takes 15 seconds to shut down the Pylon, and it can be disrupted by other players by damaging the player. The winner of the event is the person who shuts down the Pylon.

The goal here is to provide a PvP-focused event that is repeatable and that keeps people interested. It shouldn’t assume that other players will be participating at the time, so there should be some challenge for a single faction showing up.

So, your challenge is to describe an event that suits these requirements. What is your idea?


  1. Ah, an idea. To further confuse the defenders, it is possible to implement a PvE quest which involves fetching porridge from your OWN side’s kitchen for some nearby NPC.

    Comment by n.n — 5 August, 2008 @ 7:29 PM

  2. n.n., that’s an awesome idea. I really like PvP that psyches you out, as opposed to PvP where we compare stats then go home, so I got inspired. My idea is rough, but here it is:

    You’d have some plot device that dumps two opposing teams of five (maybe this can scale up) into a sealed arena. The teams might be pre-determined, or they might be random. It’s a fight to the death, and here’s the twist: when you get hit, you drop an amount of gold (or what have you) proportionate to the damage you took. The gold piles up in the center of the arena. Anyone can grab the whole pile in a single click, but if they do, they are out of the fight permanently. An easily divided, non-gold prize (“honor”?) goes to all surviving members of the last team standing. Any gold left on the ground at the end of the fight is lost.

    The crux of the thing is two-dimensional: tension between winning the fight, and grabbing the cash, and tension between team play and individual greed. You never know what the agenda of the opposing team will be coming into it (do they plan to hit and run? Fight to the finish? What equipment/spells do we make ready?) It has the bonus of functioning as an economic sink. There are tons of balance issues to work out, of course, but there it is in the rough.

    Comment by Bret — 6 August, 2008 @ 3:25 PM

  3. OK, I hope this isn’t too crazy. This is presented without lore or backstory to make it easier to follow. However, I’ve also added some specifics that could clearly be tweaked as needed.

    [b]Stage Zero[/b]: Three hours after the last time the event was completed, Two NPCs spawn, one for each faction, far apart from each other in territory their faction controls. However, on the team that lost last time the NPC is inactive. Each NPC is a part of that group’s faction

    [b]Stage One[/b]: Active NPC mentions three conditions that need to be met before stage two can be started. These could be easy side quests (“Find me a shrubbery” or “Kill ten rats”) or more odd (“ Find me a player whose name ends with S.”) The important thing here is that people cannot easily be prepared ahead of time, so there is some vagueness of when stage two will start. The more people trying to start the next stage, however, the faster it will start. This also helps to let people feel they participated even if they are not very helpful in the later stages.

    [b]Stage Two[/b]: The NPC gathers his weapons to head off to war. This should be loud and visible, and should last long enough so that people at one NPC can run (at fastest normal travel speed) to the other NPC. At the very end of this stage each NPC heals any damage done so far.

    [b]Stage Three[/b]: Each NPC lumbers towards his opposite number along an obvious and visible path. There is no healing in this stage and if he wasn’t a valid target for combat before, he becomes one now.

    [b]Stage Four[/b]: NPCs meet and there is a great battle. While each NPC is assigned to a faction, they do “friendly fire” damage to players trying to influence the battle. They are fairly evenly matched, so if no players fight or just one player tries to keep his guy alive by healing, the fight will end in a tie, and both NPCs wander back home, perhaps attacking things at random along the way and there are no later stages. The desired outcome is that one will win. The winning NPC should shout out his victory so that all in the area are aware (and stragglers might join in.) That NPC heals half of his damage and now things get interesting. Hereafter the team that won this round is referred to as Faction A.

    [b]Stage Five[/b]: The NPC for Faction A wanders now into Faction B territory. He heads to a specific site (which is either normally not accessible or normally without creatures.) Once there a battle starts again, Faction A with a single hard to kill boss on their side; Faction B with a lot of smaller creatures and perhaps some environmental advantage, like an NPC that sells Ammo or a nearby respawn spot. The Boss can easily defeat the Faction B creatures, but not very quickly. If all the creatures are killed before the NPC Boss is, then Faction A wins the event. Otherwise, Faction B wins.

    My understanding of Secondhand Lands is that either faction can do quests, even ones clearly for the other faction. In my design here, I consider that fair. Wander into Wolf lands, do the quests, start stage two and jump all over the guy you just handed into is fine, if a little counter intuitive.
    One obvious strategy is to run from your NPC when he starts Stage Two and quickly defeat the other NPC once Stage Three starts. These NPCs are not designed to be soloed, however, so bring your allies. NPCs do not heal in Stage Three or Four, so attrition may pay off.

    Another thought is how to balance this quest with possible lopsided sides. What I’d prefer to do is keep track of which team is winning more. Every time a team wins more than three in a row, increase the chance of friendly fire in Stage Four and the number of creatures in Stage Five. If the trend continues, the increases continue until your NPC has about a 50/50 chance of attacking friend or foe and the battleground has as many creatures in it as you think the graphics engine can handle.

    Thanks for reading!

    Comment by Rik — 7 August, 2008 @ 2:14 AM

  4. Ha Ha. It turns out SecondHand Lands already does the “kill ten rats” quest joke. :)

    Comment by Rik — 10 August, 2008 @ 6:42 PM

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