Offense vs Defense - A hard balance to strike in MUD game development
When thinking of building a PvP system that caters to dueling (1v1), into any game, classes or professions will inevitably have to be balanced in some manner. As skills and abilities get created we have to consider counters to powerful offenses. If we think ahead to that dreamt of release date, when Joe Public gets his hands on your pride and joy, there are going to be cries of OP (over-powered) and whining that so and so turtles with his highly defensive build, making him impossible to kill.
This is where, back at the design level, we have to consider how our PvP is going to flow. An intricate system that relies on someone making a wrong move leads to incredibly drawn-out, defensive dueling. Skills with aspects of luck in them, or that rely on someone having a faster connection than you, may end up in player frustration, and your 1v1 scene falling out to favor small or large group skirmishing.
Ideas for an exciting combat scene:
Powerful offensive abilities. You want that "Oooo" factor when someone pulls off their big skills.
- Give a supportive defense to everyone. Not something that will negate all offense, but that gives opportunities for getting the hell out and minor curing boosts. Perhaps these come at a cost.
- Administrative rule and support. Combatants can occasionally go overboard with their shiny powers - ensure that you have some sort of moderation for those who don't wish to be caught in the action.
- Allow combat to be fluid, innovative. Skills that complement each other and flow off similar balances will encourage your players to strategize, plan, practice and come back with new ideas, keeping combat in your game fresh and exciting.
- Be certain that every profession or class build has a viable "kill" method. Make this special too, it's a rush for a player when they get the kill, and even more so if the manner of death is a bit different, gruesome, than just a simple damage out. (Don't build to encourage prep-less killing, while fun, this tends only to encourage "griefing".)
People like action, but any PvP system without moderation will lead to the normal non-combatant issues and complaints. With some simple rules to protect those who don't wish to be involved in conflict, you can really get inventive with the crowd that does. Interesting abilities, offering not only flavor but, high damage, hindrance, perhaps afflictions that promote the player to consider strategies and push for innovation are good. These will keep people interested in playing, invested in your combat scene, and separate your game from the hoard of competing MMORPG’s..
A system that can lead to fights where someone seeks simply to run someone out of a curative or background allowance such as willpower or endurance is a pretty lame offering. An interesting duel in a game shouldn't take three quarters of an hour, fast-pacing, exciting is where it's at, and that's a hard thing to find when offering PvP that allows for defensive maneuvers.
About the author:
Julian Talley is a long time gamer and MMORPG aficionado, and an especial fan of games that offer challenging and balanced PvP. Between bouts of trying to beat other players in as many ways as possible, he attends college and enjoys writing about his favourite MUD games.