"Hardcore" vs "Casual" Debate - Our Stance

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    • "Hardcore" vs "Casual" Debate - Our Stance

      With Albion Online, our goal is to create a hardcore Sandbox MMORPG with full loot PvP and a fully player driven economy.

      There have been many games like this in the past, such Mortal Online or Darkfall, that have not managed to maintain high population numbers. And once population is too low, even the hardcore players tend to leave as the game feels empty to them.

      In this post, we want to share our view on the topic of hardcore vs casual players in Sandbox MMORPG games, and present our vision on how to make Albion Online a great game that will be there for the long term.


      1. Symbiosis between "carebear" and hardcore players in Sandbox MMORPGs

      The most successful hardcore Sandbox MMORPG of this day is without doubt Eve Online. Yet, in Eve Online, the vast majority of players play in the equivalent of Albion's green zone (high-sec) most of the time. Sounds like a contradiction? So should Eve Online "abolish high sec" and allow free PvP everywhere, like other games do?
      Of course not. The fact of the matter is that huge number of safe-zone players actually provides the fundamental basis for the game's hardcore PvP elements to work. How?
      • Safe zone players create a lot of supply and demand for the player driven market
      • Safe zone players tend not to lose a lot of gear. At some point, they might have too much. What do do with too much gear that you can afford to lose? PvP!
      • Many players who initially start out playing it safe will graduate to PvP later on. However, this only happens if they stay in the game long enough in the first place
      • Safe zone players add and activity to the world.
      A strong safe-zone foundation in a hardcore sandbox MMORPG will literally spawn an endless and lasting amount of hardcore play and PvP. If you take that foundation away - or do not build it in the first place - the game is not likely to last.


      2. Have a great safe zone experience as a strong baseline for the world
      • We want to make sure that the safe zone experience in Albion Online is interesting and challenging enough to keep people hooked for the long term.
      • Of course, this does not mean copying games such as World of Warcraft - that would never be possible nor would we want to do so.
      • Rather, we want to focus on the strengths of Albion Online here: building up your character, gathering and crafting, progressing towards better items, being an active part of the player driven economy, farming, getting your player island, grinding mobs and doing some faction stuff.
      • If the safe zone experience is good, a lot of safe zone players will eventually transition to the red and black zones, join a guild or get involved in PvP.
      • If the safe zone experience is bad, some will still transition, but many will just quit. And as we have stated under 1. above, even those that stay in the safe zone forever still add a benefit to the overall game world and even indirectly support PvP action through their economy contribution.


      3. No "forcing" players into PvP

      Okay, so you might say: "I agree on point 1. above, but then wouldn't it be great if you forced players to venture into the PvP zones at some point?". The answer to that is no.
      • In general, if you really force a player into some activities that he does not want to do - even though he was quite happy with the stuff which he was already doing - then most likely that player will just quit
      • However, as stated under 1., that player provides a benefit to the overall game world and economy - it much be much better if he stayed even if he'd just stick to "carebear" activities
      • Therefore, we actually want to make sure that there is deep gameplay and lasting fun in all the safe/carebear activities that we provide the players with.
      • Instead of trying to force people into PvP, we actually want to encourge it and provide incentives to do so. See the next point.


      4. Encouraging and enabling players to do PvP through top notch open world PvP content, rewards and features

      So we are not forcing people to go into PvP. Does this mean that we do not want them to? Of course not. From our point of view, full loot PvP in red zones, fighting over territories, etc is very exciting and we would like for as many people as possible to give it a try. There is a lot of things that we have done in Albion that are helping with this:
      • Balance the economy in such a way that safe/yellow zone players are generally building up a surplus of silver and assets that they can then burn off in PvP zones if they like
      • Provide the best rewards in red and black zones, making sure that there is a strong pull effect towards them
      • Have exciting features and content that are exclusive to PvP zones (territory ownership, GvG fights, enchanting temples, castle fights, etc)
      • Have the yellow zone as a smoth transition between safe zone play and full loot PvP
      • Have our current PvP flagging system, that prevents mindless "kill on sight" if both parties are flagged blue


      5. Summary
      • We have zero intention to copy or compete with classical casual/themepark MMORPGs.
      • Our goal is to create the best open world hardcore Sandbox MMORPG with full loot PvP - and we want to make sure that it lasts.
      • Providing a strong safe zone / casual player foundation is crucial to make this work.
    • PvP Rulesets and their Impact

      The casual vs hardcore debate sit at the core of PvP rulesets. Some players who like open world PvP, and are specifically looking for games who support it in a "hardcore" way, often want the following three things:
      1. be able to attack anybody freely (without a reputation/crime system)
      2. be protected from larger player groups hunting you down (and many people call them zergs as soon as they are larger than one's own group)
      3. be able to find enough victims
      What many people do not notice is the following:
      • the 1. and 2. points are mutually exclusive. If you are allowed to attack others without repercussions, others can attack you in the same manner. And in an open world setting, there is no limit on group size
      • Point 3. requires that non-PvP players are offered a good chance of avoiding combat and of getting away, and making it sufficiently hard for a PvPer to score a kill against a player who wants to run.
      A key thing to realize here is that the "game time" destroyed by killing a friendly player in a full loot game is massive compared to the time of the actual PvP hunt-down. If a red zone PvP player was able to hunt down one friendly victim every 10 minutes, it would lead to an unsustainable eco-system, i.e. in a matter of days, the only players left in the red zones would be dedicated PvPers trying to hunt each other, only the vey best ones will cope, everybody else will quit the zone making it deserted.

      With this in mind, we have designed our zones as follows:
      • Yellow Zones. These zones are designed to encourage green zone players to try out PvP with a lower risk/reward profile, giving them the chance and encouragement to transition to red zones in a smooth way. The zones are explicitly not designed for dedicated PvP players. We are aware that there is little de facto reward for PvPing here, and we have designed this as such on purpose.
      • Red Zones. These zones are designed for solo and small scale PvP. Zerging is heavily discouraged through the crime and reputation system, as any negative reputation is shared between all players involved in the kill. Zerging is also discourage through the fact that guild terriorities, located in the black zones, are quite far away from your typical red zone. When it comes to solo and small scale PvP, we want this to be tactical and well-thought out, as a pure "kill anybody on sight" type gameplay would rapidly destroy the casual/hardcore eco-system in the zone as mentioned above. "Kill anybody on sight" is strongly discouraged via the crime and reputaiton system, whereas the reward for smart PvP can be enormous due to the full loot mechanics. This baseline eco-system between criminals and targets opens up a 3rd avenue as being a criminal hunter, offering another option for cool PvP.
      • Black Zones. These zones feature 100% unrestricted PvP, and are the most dangerous zones of the game. This is why playing as a group is often key for success in these zones, and for that reason, we optimized them for guild play. However, through the black cities, you can also play them solo or as a small group, either as a gatherer/PvEer with a very good escape build, or as PvPer. A "kill everyone on sight" playstyle is possible here, however, requires a lot of skill and planning as you will meet strong resistence from well-organized, experienced players.
      We believe that the Albion Online zone system supports all valid open world play styles.

      However, there is one play-style that is not supported, as it's logically unsustainable: It's impossible to have a well-populated MMORPG that allows unrestricted PvP in an open world setting, prevents zerging and at the same time, gives PvP players enough targets and victims to kill. There are countless games that have tried this over the years, and all of them are a wasteland nowadays. Again, this does not come as a surprise, it follows logically: the first player group to quit these games are the easy victims. After that, the "normal" PvPers become victims of the most hardcore players and quit, too, and then everybody quits as there is not enough action left.
    • Personally Im sick to death of hearing the term 'Hardcore'. Its bullshit. There is no thing as Hardcore. Every game based on rules and game mechanics is more or less unforgiving than any other game, on a sliding scale. There are no rules to say at what point 'hardcore' applies. The same applies to 'Casual' . They are both completely arbitrary.

      Listening to some folk on here you'd think that there were two extremes and you have to fit in one or the other, hardcore or casual. guess what ... you dont. As per my paragraph above it doesnt really exist, The term hardcore more and more is becoming a tag people apply to themselves to brag or identify themselves as more superior to someone else. Its bollocks and makes you look like a petulant 12 year old.

      By all means discuss changes to rules and mechanics and what they mean but FFS drop this 'hardcore' bullshit.

      EDIT: Not directed at the OP ... directed at all the 'hardcore' bullshitters
    • Korn schrieb:

      Our goal is to create the best open world hardcore Sandbox MMORPG with full loot PvP - and we want to make sure that it lasts.

      Provding a strong safe zone / casual player foundation is crucial to make this work.
      I agree pretty much. Expect the fact that the "Safe Zones" unlike in EVE have no safeish backdoor (Wormholes) to high end Tier Materials, so the Hardcore players can restict the access to their territories as they like.
    • Let's be real here folks, zerging zones isn't skill or hardcore. It's the same ol thing that's been around in every other game out there. Want to know where those games are at now? Dead. And yes here is where people scream EVE, but let's be real once again. Nobody cares about that game asides from the people who have been playing it for years and years. You will not get that with AO.

      You guys also call losing all your stuff "hardcore." The rest of the world calls it tedious and boring. I don't mind my equipped items being lost or lootable, that's fine and drives the economy. What is tedious, is that I also lose my inventory. So now, because a "skilled" zerg killed me, or if I decide to do some group PvP myself, I can't.

      Ohhhh wait, yes I can keep PvPing. Once i go back to town, go to the AH, rebuy all of my stuff again, then travel 3+ zones away again just to probably get in a couple group fights or zerged down again, and get ported back to town again.

      Yeah no thanks. Let me keep gear in my inventory so that I can keep playing, then you have a deal. Forcing people away from the action ruins immersion, which ruins games.
    • What we have in EVE online?
      1. Half of the universe is null sec - red zones in Albion
      2. 1/4 is low sec - yellow zones in albion
      3. 1/4 is hi sec - green zones in Albion
      4. High end minerals are located in null sec and wormhole space (black zones in Albion)
      5. wormholes can bound high sec and null sec

      Now you have 2 tier resources in green zones - same solution like in EVE,
      green zoners can sell this resources to ppl who live in other zones, same like in EVE,
      The problem is in the relation between red/black and green zone size (green is too big imo atm) and "ideas" of carebears about restriction or remove pvp in pvp zones.

      B rgds
      O.
    • Braize schrieb:

      Let's be real here folks, zerging zones isn't skill or hardcore. It's the same ol thing that's been around in every other game out there. Want to know where those games are at now? Dead. And yes here is where people scream EVE, but let's be real once again. Nobody cares about that game asides from the people who have been playing it for years and years. You will not get that with AO.

      You guys also call losing all your stuff "hardcore." The rest of the world calls it tedious and boring. I don't mind my equipped items being lost or lootable, that's fine and drives the economy. What is tedious, is that I also lose my inventory. So now, because a "skilled" zerg killed me, or if I decide to do some group PvP myself, I can't.

      Ohhhh wait, yes I can keep PvPing. Once i go back to town, go to the AH, rebuy all of my stuff again, then travel 3+ zones away again just to probably get in a couple group fights or zerged down again, and get ported back to town again.

      Yeah no thanks. Let me keep gear in my inventory so that I can keep playing, then you have a deal. Forcing people away from the action ruins immersion, which ruins games.
      The game has been advertised from the very beginning as a full loot PvP game. It's pretty straight forward I think and if you don't like getting your stuff looted, they have their green/yellow zones for you.
      [img]http://i.imgur.com/u207xaO.png[/img]
    • Braize schrieb:


      Ohhhh wait, yes I can keep PvPing. Once i go back to town, go to the AH, rebuy all of my stuff again, then travel 3+ zones away again just to probably get in a couple group fights or zerged down again, and get ported back to town again.

      Yeah no thanks. Let me keep gear in my inventory so that I can keep playing, then you have a deal. Forcing people away from the action ruins immersion, which ruins games.
      wait what? So you don't even want to be ported back to town when u get killed? U just want to pop back up with full gear? Yea that sounds like a good idea......
    • Great post thanks for clearing things up.

      The vocal minority on the forums needs to stop whineing and provide some discussion and arguments about why the game "is so carebear now zomg"


      ossur schrieb:

      What we have in EVE online?
      1. Half of the universe is null sec - red zones in Albion
      2. 1/4 is low sec - yellow zones in albion
      3. 1/4 is hi sec - green zones in Albion
      4. High end minerals are located in null sec and wormhole space (black zones in Albion)
      5. wormholes can bound high sec and null sec

      Now you have 2 tier resources in green zones - same solution like in EVE,
      green zoners can sell this resources to ppl who live in other zones, same like in EVE,
      The problem is in the relation between red/black and green zone size (green is too big imo atm) and "ideas" of carebears about restriction or remove pvp in pvp zones.

      B rgds
      O.
      I agree the Black and red zone size is way way too small to support the current population, and is never going to be enough for a f2p model with more players than now
      [Strife]Come get some
    • It's encouraging to hear reassurance that you will not turn this into a themepark/casual mmo. I have not seen people suggesting open pvp everywhere, I love the current system. I think most people do. I think the biggest issues your player base has and would like an answer too currently is:
      • Fast Travel. Can you remove it? Keep it just for Green zone travel? Do you see how it takes away strategy and entertainment?
      • Weapon and Item balancing
      • End game content
      • Solution to overpopulation and making that solution work long term
      I hear more praise than complaints about this game. I'm having too much fun. Keep and build on the team strategy elements and keep it hard. Thanks.
      Vendetta :thumbsup:
    • I agree with OP as a balance is what is needed. I think some of the recent changes are SI seeing what the community does and thinks when they do these changes to try and find that sweet spot. Sure it will rub some folks the wrong way but they don't really know till they try. This is my hope at least. Fast travel is needed in some ways, much like UO had teleporting. The zergs are already an issue and as always, it's the ppl who consider themselves "hardcore" that do it even though they state on forums that they hate that playstyle.

      However I also think that part of what makes these issues worse right now, is that the land mass is small. @Korn or one of the other devs can correct me, but at release we're supposed to have 800+ zones for everyone to spread out in. We barely have 50 right now. (approximation, haven't counted) That will also make the world feel extremely tight with the amount of people the game already has.

      Also can we get rid of hardcore and carebear terms? Literally the only difference is who can spend their lives in-game and who has outside responsibilities.
    • Tensu schrieb:

      It's encouraging to hear reassurance that you will not turn this into a themepark/casual mmo. I have not seen people suggesting open pvp everywhere, I love the current system. I think most people do. I think the biggest issues your player base has and would like an answer too currently is:
      • Fast Travel. Can you remove it? Keep it just for Green zone travel? Do you see how it takes away strategy and entertainment?
      • Weapon and Item balancing
      • End game content
      • Solution to overpopulation and making that solution work long term
      I hear more praise than complaints about this game. I'm having too much fun. Keep and build on the team strategy elements and keep it hard. Thanks.
      Fast travel is expensive now and it's getting a 300% price increase aswell.

      it just needs to be expensive enough so people dont use it to sell goods everywhere instead of removing it totally imo yellow/red zones should not have fast travel enabled though unless the zones get much bigger
      [Strife]Come get some