Open Servers: Closed For Fun

September 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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?
  5. 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?



  1. OK man, that post makes my eyes bleed it is so long! I haven’t gotten through all of it yet, however, I just wanted to mention one thing (for now):

    “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.”

    I can totally understand why someone would totally hate the idea of Open-RvR servers, but there are a lot of people who LOVE it. That was a bit of overgeneralizing imho. Some people may regret the choice, but I NEVER ONCE even for the tiniest smidgen of a nanosecond regret rolling PvP in WoW.

    I was ganked a number of times on that server and I was fine with it because it was to be expected. Want revenge? Gank ’em right back. Getting ganked on a PvE server is just pathetic though. Some guy gets to hide behind an invisible mechanic making him unattackable until it is the most convenient possible time?

    Talk about a breeding ground for lame wussies. 😛

  2. And you didn’t get to the part yet where I said there are people who love it, eh? Hee…

  3. Eeek! The passive aggression! Rawr!

    You took it a bit too personally Syp. I was referring to your extremely uncommon practices of wanting to collect all the armor sets and romp around the lowbie areas as a high level slaughtering newbie mobs. In like 12 years of playing these games I’ve met very few people who like to do that. The vast majority move forward without looking back much at all.

    WAR, on open rvr servers and partially on core, is just taking an active approach to something most people do passively.

    I hope you weren’t offended by my classifying you a the minority. It wasn’t meant as an insult or a slight.

  4. I noticed on one of the survey’s, it asked about this. Specifically, about the chicken mechanic on Open RvR Servers.

  5. I agree with you, and I’d be in your minority too. If my friends had decided to play on open-RVR, I would have followed them. I understand some of the reasonings for wanting to, but it’s not my preferred thing (despite my love of RP servers, I can live without things being 100% copacetic with the setting of war being everywhere). I think they might change and tweak the chickening on open-RvR. I hope they do.

  6. I don’t really care about Open Servers as I am a Core man. How many Open proponents want Chicken and how many don’t? That seems to be the key, as it seems like they have to decide on 1 solution for open, otherwise they are going to start to have too many rulesets.

    So what does Mythic do if it is a 50/50 split? People will be disappointed regardless.

  7. While I don’t mind the pvp server mindset, I can remember plenty of times getting sidetracked for 30 mins plus in a gankfest both ways. Agreed on that.

    Frankly, if they are going to make “open” servers, leave out the chicken. If people want to roll on servers where their lvl 8 dudes can be one shot by a lvl 40, let them. Don’t force people to just dip a toe in a pvp server – throw them in the pool. The water is great!

  8. Keen, no harm no… FOWL! I felt it was a bit of a condescending comment, but again, you meant it in a different way than I took it (which was that less than 1% would care enough about Tome unlocks to make this a questionable issue).

    I still feel you were pretty dismissive of this as a real issue or that anyone but a very tiny population would care, but large generalizations is part of the fun of blogging!

  9. Why don’t Mythic make a mechanic that instead of turning you into a chicken in the lower level tiers, you are automatically unflagged for pvp, this would prevent the ganking and newbie killing but still allow you to get ToK unlocks and explore the area.

  10. Are yall sure you get the chicken for all “content” in the lower tier, or is it just the RvR area?

  11. Chickening is not the solution. It sounds like a good idea at first, but it goes too far.

    I’d rather be open to ganking than be subject to chickening.

  12. I’d like the mechanic more if it didn’t assume that players only enter lower level zones to gank others. It would be better if players could visit lower level areas, but weren’t turned into a chicken until they attempted to damage enemy players.

    This way they can explore, harvest crafting materials, work toward tome unlocks or help friends with PvE. This still allows high level players to steal mobs from low level players of the opposing realm and it would be more difficult to code and if its bugged in any way it will be exploited.

    It is arguably fairer though: attempting to gank = chicken.

  13. Quoth Syp: “This is what we might call in other MMOs a “PvP Server””

    And that is a huge mistake on the part of all those other companies. To take WoW’s example, the rulesets are “normal” and “PVP”, implying that the “PVP” option has PVP and, by inference, that the normal one does not. (Then again, there were neither battlegrounds nor even an honor system when the game launched, so there wasn’t really any point to PVP in the normal ruleset at the time.) If the rulesets had been called “ganking optional” and “ganking enabled”, WoW might not have had so many players making a choice that they later wound up regretting.

    Mythic’s “Core”/”Open” names are intended not to imply that players who choose the “core” set are not getting the entire game. Of course, that effort is partially defeated when the devs repeatedly refer to “carebears” in a derogatory fashion (“Oh, well, we will have carebear content if you don’t want to do RVR….”), but I suppose not everyone reads dev interviews/fansites/blogs.

  14. I’m also a completionist… I’ll be reading every bit of quest text, exploring every area, and likely jumping off of cliffs repeatedly in search of the ever-elusive “The Pancake” title.

    For now, with most of the PvP fans getting in on the WAR action early, the content restrictions might not be a huge deal to them, and that’s fine, to each his own. But if WAR is as successful as folks think it may be and draws PvE-focused converts from other games, then cutting off all that Tier 1-3 content will become a big issue. They’ll need to either change the chicken mechanic (which I don’t see happening) or open up a lot more Core servers.

  15. I agree whole-heartedly with Syp: Open PVP servers are a place for jerks to act on their jerkiness. Chickening them in lower zones prevents them from doing what they truly love to do…which is to displace their unhappiness with their own lives on players who stand zero chance in defending themselves. I guess they never got hugs or something when they were a kid? I don’t know. When I was on a PVP server in WoW and was higher level than others, I would go back and help both friend and foe with kill-count quests (they tag it, I kill it; they were scared until they figured out what I intended, then they cheered and jumped). I am certainly the minority in that case.

    Frankly, I really like the chicken mechanic’s presence in Open PVP servers…because it will make a lot of jerks mad that they can’t do what they love doing =) and that’s the kind of punishing frustration I want them to experience. ❤

  16. [caps]step away from the blog machine and play the game[/caps] 😉

    I, an unnamed lurker, very much enjoyed reading the ponderings from guys these past several months, but I must bid you adieu, for I now have a fun game to go play. Thanks for getting me psyched for it. Good luck in your respective guilds.

  17. I agree with Syp, and I think it’s a lot more than 1%, more like 50%+. Chicken is not the answer. It does take away content from players. It does limit Open servers, and makes them less than Core servers. But this is just one of many things Mythic is getting wrong so far, and it hasn’t even launched yet.

  18. I think the WOW mindset has really distorted the conversation… being that WAR is PVP regardless.

    core does not equal carebear, but being so many things are marketed similarly to WOW that will be the initial reaction to the uninitiated.

    Unfortunately I think Mythic bit off more than they could chew with this one, and probably regrets the decision of the ‘open’ server type at launch. (IMO)

    Launch is only a week away, and these are huge mechanic changes we are talking about impact wise.

  19. AMEN!

    I was starting to think I was the only one who was BAFFLED at the thought of pure game content being completely CUT OFF from you. Half the fun of being max-level is being able to go anywhere you want, whenever you want, and do (pretty much) whatever you want.

    And I don’t think my argument is really against the Open servers, but more so against the horribly lazy and poor implementation (no changes) of the chicken mechanic into the open servers. They’re a vastly different ruleset, yet you don’t change the chicken mechanic at all to work better with the server ruleset? No thanks.

  20. […] and Syp weigh in with thoughts about the chicken mechanic staying on the open-RvR servers. It’s an […]

  21. […] daily since June 12th was quite upset with the release of the Open RvR server rules.  He mentions several reasons, but the only one I’m gonna touch down on […]

  22. More problems than that with open RvR servers. I went to check out the lair Mark Jacobs mentioned in his PAX blog – it’s rank 40 content, of course.

    End-game content in previous tiers will be inaccessible to players in open RvR servers.

    In my opinion the ruleset just shouldn’t exist and the game should be played as intended… There’s plenty of open world RvR on core servers, even outside the RvR lakes, but no griefing.

  23. I cried foul at the city cuts because in games like WoW and DAOC I went to the capital cities all the time, even at max rank. Conversely, I never went back to earlier level zones because to me, it would be a complete waste of time. I’m just not into it.

    Now, just because I don’t care doesn’t mean the content should be restricted to people who do. I guess if Mythic can get around the chicken mechanic so some rank 40s aren’t ganking rank 5s because some others want to unlock the new title of “Overachiever,” I’m in full support. More power to you!

  24. Syp, I honestly think this is a case of one person not wanting to roll on the server set that all their friends are rolling on. If this happened to me, I’d simply wish them luck and wave goodbye, because I am paying $15 to have fun MY way, not everybody else’s way.

    To me, it seems that Open servers are not made for folks to do PvE. And that’s fine, because they have the other servers to do that on. Nobody played on Mordred to kill the dragons.

  25. One clarification: Open servers do not penalize crafters. That’s because when you harvest an item using your crafting skill, the item(s) you receive depend on your skill, NOT on the level of the mob. So if you pick up scavenging at R20 and scavenge a R20 mob, you will receive “rank 1” items, since that’s your scavenging skill.

  26. The answer to this is quite obvious, and I just wish Mythic would implement this as soon as possible:

    Deleveling mechanics.

    The chicken thing is great to prevent higher level players from ganking lowbies, but yes: It is a shame that it restricts content.

    By allowing the player to delevel when entering a lower level tier area, it prevents any unbalances (such as higher level players helping in a lower level fight) while giving everyone the absolute benefit of being able to go back and fight/do/explore.

    For now though, I’ll be heading to Open server, with the hope that Mythic will be implementing deleveling at one point. Sure, the rules cause one or two problems, but everything better than being ganked by someone like that dwarf in snafz’s story or seeing a bunch of dwarves peacefully pick some flowers without plunging myself headlong into their group in a suicide of gore and guts, hoping to take down one or two with me. 😀

    It’s war after all.

  27. […] Open Servers: Closed For Fun See what I did there? Let’s walk through a bit of the current furor/discussion/light-hearted murder over the new […] […]

  28. For people who are worried about not being able to go back to the old content of tier 1,2 and 3 when they are in tier 4, you still CAN go back, so dont worry about that. I havent got high enough on the closed beta servers (to test the open RVR rules) since they opened up recently and the lvl curve is higher now, but on the core servers you can go any where you want and you wont be turned into chicekn if you are doing PVE. YOU ONLY BECOME A CHICKEN IF YOU GO TO PVP. This is to prevent you from ganking noobies in lower lvl content ( I love this feature since I know 99% of people are gankers 😉 ). Anyway just wanted to let you guys know that you are not being cut off from content dont worry about that. I will let you know about open RVR rules once I get to higher lvls on closed beta servers.

  29. [quote]core servers you can go any where you want and you wont be turned into chicekn if you are doing PVE. YOU ONLY BECOME A CHICKEN IF YOU GO TO PVP. This is to prevent you from ganking noobies in lower lvl content ( I love this feature since I know 99% of people are gankers 😉 ). Anyway just wanted to let you guys know that you are not being cut off from content dont worry about that. I will let you know about open RVR rules once I get to higher lvls on closed beta servers.[/quote]

    CORE SERVERS…. this entire post was about open servers which work DIFFERENTLY to core servers…

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