Monday, April 9, 2012

PvP Thoughts: On Battleground Losses and Honor Rewards

As I've been PvPing more often in WoW, I've increasingly run across some of the unsavory characters people often complain about in PvP—I'm sure you know the types: botters, AFKers, and (most infuriatingly) "just let them win"ers. I think the most frustrating thing about running into these players is that the controls put in place by Blizzard to prevent these kinds of behaviors are completely overshadowed by the incentives the game gives to engage in any or all of the above. Essentially, people do these types of things because they consider gaining a mediocre reward for little to no effort as being far superior to gaining a slightly less mediocre reward for a substantially larger amount of effort.

And the fact of the matter is that they're right. The reason for this, as contradictory as it may seem at first, in my opinion is because Battlegrounds are simultaneously too rewarding of and not rewarding enough of failure—it all depends on the degree, the particular shade of gray, of that failure. While there is some level of pride that can be had from pushing the opposing team to their limits and losing by the slimmest of margins, at present there is quantitatively little additional reward for doing so.

Consider it from a PvE perspective. If you zone into a dungeon or raid and wipe on the first trash pack before the group disbands, you get nothing but a repair bill and some wasted time. If you kill a few trash packs but are unable to down any bosses, you get some gold and maybe some vendor/crafting/green items. If you down the boss, you'll have a chance at winning a blue or purple and maybe some Justice or Valor Points. Complete all but the final boss, though, and you'll still have earned a decent-sized sum of gold and goods, even if you don't get the bonus prize(s) for ultimate success.

In PvP, though, the difference in reward between standing around at a graveyard twiddling your thumbs for an entire match and losing by the skin of your teeth is fairly negligible. As such, I think that widening this gap significantly is the best way to give players reason to give it their all every match. "Just let them win so we can requeue" is a far less appealing argument to make if you know that you're within spitting distance of a better reward no matter what the current situation looks like.

Imagine if the following system were put in place: if you win a Battleground you earn 100% of the bonus Honor that Battleground awards, and the bonus Honor awarded by each Battleground is significant enough as compared to slaying enemy characters such that it is more economical to complete the Battleground's objectives and queue for another one rather than stall victory and farm kills. On the other hand, if you lose, you have a potential to earn a percentage of the bonus Honor depending on how close the fight was. If you lose by a slim margin, you earn up to 75% of the bonus Honor that Battleground awards (so almost as much as the victor, but not quite). The wider the margin of your loss, the less bonus Honor you receive, down to gaining no bonus Honor whatsoever for getting totally steamrolled.

As an example, the metrics could work out as such:

For Arathi Basin:
0% bonus Honor baseline for losing
+10% bonus Honor for each base controlled at end of match (maximum of 4 = 40% total maximum)
+5% bonus Honor for having more than 800 resource points
+5% bonus Honor for having more than 1000 resource points
+10% bonus Honor for having more than 1200 resource points
+15% bonus Honor for having more than 1400 resource points
=75% cumulative maximum for a loss with 1400 or more resource points and with 4 bases controlled at end of match

For Warsong Gulch:
0% bonus Honor baseline for losing
+15% bonus Honor for each flag capture (maximum of 2 = 30% total maximum)
+10% bonus Honor for a match lasting longer than 10 minutes
+10% bonus Honor for a match lasting longer than 15 minutes
+10% bonus Honor for a match lasting longer than 20 minutes
+2% bonus Honor for a match lasting longer than 21 minutes
+2% bonus Honor for a match lasting longer than 22 minutes
+2% bonus Honor for a match lasting longer than 23 minutes
+2% bonus Honor for a match lasting longer than 24 minutes
+2% bonus Honor for reaching the 25 minute time limit
+5% bonus Honor for a tied loss
=75% cumulative maximum for a tied 2-2 momentum loss from hitting the time limit

And so on and so forth for the various other Battlegrounds.

Assuming the bonus Honor is significant enough to be enticing, I think the net result would be this:
  • Losing teams would have a reason to put up the best fight they possibly can, because the closer the match, the better their reward.
  • Winning teams would be disincentivized from resting on their laurels because winning quickly and requeuing would be mathematically superior Honor gains than allowing things to draw on longer than necessary.
  • "Just let them win"ers would have less reason to give up the fight when investing incrementally more effort gives a reasonable chance at incrementally greater reward.
  • AFKers and botters who contribute nothing would earn less rewards over time as their lack of participation would result in wider margins of loss for their teams. This would also encourage reporting of said individuals since they'd immediately cut into potential honor gains for everyone who is participating. As it stands right now, many PvPers have such little faith in Blizzard's reporting system that botters and AFKers seem to be able to hang around for entire matches due to lack of votes against them.
I do think that there are other methods Blizzard can employ to reward participation and discourage giving up, but I'll get into those in a future post.

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