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Importance of items in on-line games

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For adventure-style(fantasy, sci-fi or whatever) MMO-ish games with BOTH PvP and PvE (like Diablo 2, Guild Wars, WoW, etc.), do you or would you prefer: 1. A completely non-item based approach to the entire thing (like the Guild Wars PvP-only portion except expanded to include PvE) where you don’t “find” anything but rather unlock it. This way would force the PvE into a pure-PvP-ish mold. No game that I am aware of does this across the board in a pure sense. 2. A mixed approach that mixes PvE found items with PvP (i.e. you aren’t going to be doing much PvP without some PvE items, either by playing or trading). 3. A PvE heavy approach that means the PvP people have to do significant PvE (both playing and items) in order to compete (more like the Diablo 2 approach). The PVP can still be very well designed, but the two are intimately tied to each other. In short, how important should acquired items be to the PvP side of a game in a game that allows for both? Most importantly….WHY?

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Seems to me you are describing 3 completely different games that are going to have 3 completely different audiences. The mixed approach is going to be difficult to make it work, with a lot of balancing involved (you have to balance PvE, balance PvP, and balance them TOGETHER!!!). I think the best way to go would be to lean towards one or the other. Leaning towards PvP (option 1) would be the most original way to go, with probably the most potential. Leaning towards PvE (option 3) has been done for the most part, and in most current implementations has some inherent problems, but there are ways around those problems. Option 1 seems like the coolest option to me, but it all depends on what kind of game you are making.

With PvE, even though PvP is a part of the game, a signifigant amount of play time (especially in the begining) will be dedicated to PvE. So you will attract a lot of PvE players, and you can't guarantee they will all be interested in PvP. Similarly, if you don't need PvE items to compete in PvP, you will attract a lot of PvPers who arent interested in anything else.

Only you can decide :)

The mixed approach does hold some water, but it would be far too easy to end up with something that sucks on both accounts. Maybe if you have the player base actually seperated? PvE players can mine, craft, and hunt items etc that they provide to their guild, whose top athletes then use the items in player combat against top athletes from other guilds. It would be like how racecar drivers are supplied with cars that are maintained by the shop, where they can focus on just being the best driver they can be. But then, in most games you do a lot of fighting to earn those items in PvE, so it doesnt make as much sense, because why wouldnt the skilled fighter be the one getting all the drops. For this to work there would have to be clear seperation of skills where pvp players arent much good at pve, and I can't think of a good story-based reason for this - unless pve doesnt involve much killing.

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