Community Discussion Topics > Game Dev and Gaming

Skill vs Skills


When designing a video game, do you ever stop and ask yourself: Do I want my players to win through Skill, or win because they have skills? I had done a test with my roomates children to find out how good they were. They all played World of Warcraft, and were all pretty good at it, therefore they had Skills. However, I flipped on the original Super Mario Brothers and guess what.. they were stumped when it came to passing levels, no skill. This seems to be the problem with a lot of games on the market. It is the ability to bang your head on the keyboard and still be able to play your character correctly. Kind of like playing Mortal Kombat and winning by just pressing buttons and not through special actions.

Where does facerolling playing stop and real playing begin? Do you balance your game through PvE, PvP, or both? The answer, in my honest opinion, is in the game itself. If you are making a very in-depth game which includes all of the elements of questing, instances, raiding, pvp, etc... Then honestly your game should balance around the world content of the game, THEN balance your PvP around that. Its vice versa if your content is very pvp heavy.

Realistically, I feel it is damaging to try and balance for both. If you do that, you take away from both the players who enjoy PvE content, and the hardcore PvP players. You should take some time, sit back, and ask yourself this: Do I want a story driven game with a lot of PvE content, or do I want a PvP game with some PvE content thrown in. The choice is yours in the end :)

I think this comes down to the common practice in MMOs to build timesinks into games and presenting a measured value for growth (rather it is levels or skill points or whatever it might be that makes you better than you were X days ago or better than Y based on that stat).   It is really hard to properly balance a PvE game if you are measuring it based on player skill and not to mention the AI is going to have to be robust and complicated to present a challenge to a player.  PvP is a bit easier to do as you have another player in that you can measure you skill against (if it is a fight to the death, then in the most simple of sense the winner is the more skilled), but of course it gets complicated with larger scale PvP or RvR scenarios.

Kind of the same thought process in PvE that leads to most games having levels versus a purely skill based system that is much harder to measure how challenging an encounter is going to be. 

If you can make an MMO where players only get better by virtue of them learning to play the game better.... I'd have to see this :)

One of the problems you might run into is that very skilled players will get very good quickly, and will be as good as they need to be to proceed onto getting bored with the game.  Skill progression, or level progression, serves as a means to slow players down from unlocking too many things too quickly.  If you want to keep it balanced, make it that so skill / level progression only imparts a small bonus (like 5% or 10% per skill / level, enough so that a less skilled player could beat another player in PvP if they played better or smarter).

I think you are correct though that featuring traditional PvE content and the progression that is typically experienced in it is going to clash with PvP capabilities and that balancing both is impossible.  Typically, PvE content grows in difficulty such that skilled players could only take down stuff maybe a few levels higher than they are if they play well.  This means the player's abilities as they progress need to grow similarly, so the player can rise to the challenge of more difficult PvE content.  This has the same effect of making it impossible for a level 5 character to fight a level 10 character and have any hope of winning in PvP.

If you want to try something completely different you can have the PvE and PvP aspects of the game separate from each other (not a battlefield type separate, but actual character growth and skills for each).  You could do some kind of avatar system where they could play a different character, race, or creature in the PvP side of things. 

Guild Wars kinda did that ( sorta  :P ).


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