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Actium Praetor

Gameplay Tuning & Balance: PvP vs. PvE

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After watching the downward spiral over the last few patches, it came to me that there's actually one simple underlying reason from a programming perspective why things are going wrong (from a social perspective, the argument can certainly be made that the developers aren't listening much to the playerbase, but that's its own issue), and how it could doom Atlas to fail as a result:

They're trying to tune/balance the gameplay experience for both PvP and PvE equally, or more specifically, they're trying to apply PvP tuning/balancing to PvE.

This doesn't work. This has never worked, throughout the entire history of gaming. This probably will never work. You can not tune PvP and PvE the same way. This. Does. Not. Work.

 

PvP and PvE require, not need or want but straight-up require, distinct tuning and balance optimizations that are often incompatible with each other. What works for PvP will often break PvE and vice versa because the different play styles for each mandate mechanics optimizations that don't carry over to the other style, or cause collateral, knock-on, or counter-intuitive effects. This is why MMOs are built the way they are - whenever you see PvP implemented in a MMO that isn't "globally" PvP, it will always use a specific mechanics subsystem designed carefully around PvP that carries a similar "feel" as the PvE main system but doesn't work the same exact way. If you ever wondered why MMOs that are non-PvP often have specific PvP areas or arenas, this is why - those areas are operating under different rules with different optimization requirements.

A solid example of this in Atlas is the fire arrow/bow nerfing. What was ostensibly intended to make fire arrows less of a mini-nuke in PvP when fighting other players made them next-to-useless in PvE against alphas where you actually need a lot of burst damage and a solid amount of DoT to successfully kill something with 10x your HP that can probably outrun you. By reducing the effective damage value of fire arrows and fiddling with bows to slow down their effective use, the balance change in PvP has effectively rendered fire arrows useless against alphas in PvE. The tuning that may help in one play style hurts a lot in the other.

The changes to stone construction could be seen as another. Greatly increasing the cost but greatly reducing the defensive usefulness of stone structures may have helped some balance issues in PvP but essentially make stone structures uncraftable for large areas of the game world in PvE, and the lack of effective defense against aggressive wildlife means that PvE again takes it in the shorts by forcing players to build with materials the wildlife will (for some unfathomable reason) endlessly attack until they break through.

 

Because the dev team is trying to treat PvP and PvE as the same for the sake of making life easier on themselves (as having two sets of parameters to deal with basically doubles the work required), they're damaging the playability of the PvE side a disproportionate amount by trying to use PvP-centric optimizations in PvE. You can't have it both ways. Pick a side and stick with it: either make Atlas all PvP or all PvE, alienating the other side and driving them away in the process, and build the game as appropriate, or try to shoot for the middle and alienate both sides through balance changes that may help one but will penalize the other, dooming the entire project to fail.

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