Open Servers: Closed For FunSeptember 6, 2008
See what I did there?
Let’s walk through a bit of the current furor/discussion/light-hearted murder over the new Open Server ruleset. In the 4.1 patch, Mythic has tentatively put out Open Servers, with the following restrictions features:
-Players are always RvR flagged from the moment they log in
-Chapter 1 hubs and capital cities are safe
-There is no bolster buff in RvR lakes
-Players will be chickened when entering lower tiers of content
This is what we might call in other MMOs a “PvP Server”, except that because WAR is already so heavily dominated by a PvP presence, they had to think of a new term to emphasize “More PvP: Even When You Don’t Feel Like Doing It”. Hence, “Open” Servers, where PvP is all the rage, WAR truly is everywhere, and frustration will mount to extreme levels yet players will still call it “fun” because they don’t want to admit that they screwed up by picking the server.
A disclaimer: I spent a year on a World of Warcraft PvP server, first because it was a brand-new server and I wanted a fresh start, and then stuck with it because I found a great group of friends to adventure with and I hated the thought of leaving. Yet leave I did, finally, because I quickly learned the lesson of open-PvP servers: they’re breeding grounds for jerks who are given free reign to be even more jerky. Ganking, camping, completely unfair fights, etc. I couldn’t find a game fun where I had to constantly swivel the camera to look for ambushing rogues, where I couldn’t get a break from PvP if I wanted to peacefully quest, and where I could be free from harassment.
Because let’s be honest: nobody rolls on a PvP server looking for a fair fight, just the fights they can win. Snafzg tells part of a story about how a dwarf successfully ganked us mid-fight (scroll down to the comments to get a bit of my perspective on it). But there were two separate issues with this tale: one is that we were flagged for RvR having recently left the RvR area and the dwarf was not (which won’t be an extremely common occurrence on Core servers), and the second is that the dwarf got the drop on us only after we were engaged. Now the second issue, well, that’s life, and that will happen more often than not on open servers. The fact that it got Snaffy mad so that he wished he could’ve pre-ganked the guy (with 2 of us against 1 of him) doesn’t change the fact that ganking is what these servers are known for.
Now I’ll admit that the choice to play on a PvP — or Open — server is one of personal preference. If you can’t stand the thought of an enemy player passing peacefully by you without you having a shot at knocking their head off, if you couldn’t care less about non-PvP activities, or if you feel as though the prestige of playing on an open server is worth the extra difficulty, then more power to you. Really. This post isn’t here trying to sway people from the ruleset, because there are a lot of folks out there who find this sort of thing right up their alley. It’s a shame that they use this preference to constantly look down on people who play on regular/core servers and call them names, but oh well. Such is the burden of an internet ego.
Second disclaimer: since a few of my friends look like they’re going to play on an Open Server, I probably will have some characters there as well. But it doesn’t mean I have to like what Mythic’s doing in 4.1.
The real issue that’s popped up over the 4.1 patch and its Open Server ruleset is the last point in that section of the patch notes: “Players will be chickened when entering lower tiers of content.” We’re going to reserve full judgment until (1) we’re able to test this out or see other people test it extensively, and (2) we see if Mythic keeps this in after open beta or not. However, I take this to mean that if you’re in the level range for Tier 2 content and you go down to any of the Tier 1 zones, you get instantly chickened. Same with Tier 3’s going down to 2 or 1, and Tier 4’s going to 3, 2 or 1. And although Keen calls me “in the vast minority here… less than 1% of the total population” for considering this as anything other then a small restriction, I think he’s talking out of a part of his anatomy best reserved for post-Taco Bell ruminations.
Since I am going to play, part-time, on this ruleset, I have strong feelings about this, because it attacks or outright eliminates content in WAR — something I thought most people cared pretty passionately against:
- I am deeply concerned that restricting full-combat access to lower-tiered zones will make certain Tome unlocks impossible or near-impossible to attain. Of course, you may not care about Tome unlocks, and Keen might not care, but I do. And I’m sure the “<1% crowd” cares too. You know why? Because people are nuts for achievements and unlocks — look at any casual XBox Live player and the rampant obsession for getting every unlock in a certain game. Some hardcore players might poo-poo Tome unlocks as frivolous wastes of time, but I think — I know — they are going to be surprised how powerfully this sort of thing resonates with the majority of the gaming population. And to have anything threaten those potential achievements is a nerve-wracking thought.
- If you include fortresses and capital cities as playable zones, then the Open Server ruleset will chickenize you in 18 out of 37 zones. 18! That’s just a smidgen under half of the entire game zones, walled off from any effective use by Tier 4 players. As I said to Snafzg, people were howling for blood when 4 of the 6 capital cities were cut from the launch of the game, and yet the pro-Open Server peeps don’t seem to bat an eye at half of the rest of their content eventually being denied to them. I don’t know about you, but I value being able to go anywhere in a gameworld that I’m paying for, without being penalized being I’m “too high” for the area.
- Part of the fun of achieving a high level/rank in any MMO is the feeling of power and achievement. Almost everyone I know has enjoyed feeling like they’re in “God mode” by going back to earlier zones and smacking around formerly-feared mobs and flowing through the battlefield like a red-hot iron against the butter brigade. Not to mention that content, such as dungeons, that are skipped over (accidentally or due to other circumstances) are incredibly fun to go back and revisit as a high level. WoW made a pasttime out of it. It’s a small thing, but again, it’ll be denied to you on the open servers.
- It’ll penalize collectors and possibly crafters. Collectors because some suits of armor will be available only in lower-tiered zones (for example, from PQs), which also result in a Tome unlock in the Armory section. Crafters because you won’t be able to grind any low-level mobs for mats, but instead either have to purchase them from vendors or other players. Again, not a big thing, but again, it’s restricting content. See a running theme?
- And forget about running back to help out any friends who might need a big brother to power through a particularly tough quest or mob. But hey, being anti-social is what PvP servers are about, right?
Now, remember that I’m not saying Open Servers are evil, but it boggles my mind that any player can accept the denial of content without putting up a fight. And whether or not the lower-tiered chickenization is a bother to you, there’s absolutely no way you can deny that it isn’t closing off content. Congrats, you’ve reached the highest level in Warhammer Online: now you get less of the game for the same cost.
There has to be a better way for Mythic to handle this that will give the open-RvR crowd exactly what they want while not taking so much content away from the players.
But hey, what do I know. I’m under 1%, remember?