Thursday, October 27, 2005

How to save World of Warcraft battlegrounds – An in depth look into how less is more.

What would you consider the top three problems with the current battleground system in World of Warcraft? To me they are the following…
1. Arranged groups vs. pick up groups result in unfair matches.
2. No sense of accomplishment gained from a battleground win and nothing lost for losing one.
3. Repeating battlegrounds non-stop is required for PvP ranks.
An Easy Fix

Arranged group vs. pick up groups is a clear and easy fix in my eyes. Divide the queues up into two different categories.

Arranged group queue – Only pre-arranged groups that have a full group for the battleground size would be allowed into this queue.

Random queue – Only solo players would be allowed into this queue.

This division of queues would allow for an equal chance for solo and group players to play with equally prepared opponents. Along with the other proposals I am about to present this will go a long ways to making battlegrounds more enjoyable for everyone.

The two downfalls to this division are that a) arranged teams may have to wait much longer for matches and b) arranged teams could abuse the system and throw matches. The first downfall I am not concerned about because these players can join the random queue. A monitoring tool to tell when there is an arranged team ready for a match would be a good addition.

The second downfall would require Blizzard to monitor matches. Any arranged match that ends within the first XX minutes (determined by Blizzard for each battleground) would be flagged for review. The players involved should also be flagged. This is cheating and already occurs with the current system. Like all cheating Blizzard would need to enforce their policies against cheating.

Now this brings up the point that this change would hurt those players who want to play together. I have thought about this for a while and I will discuss it later.

Making Battlegrounds Special

The speed at which the current battlegrounds are repeated directly leads to most players becoming *burnt out* on them. However, players keep going back because it is the only way to gain contribution points on a competitive scale. Open world PvP contribution points can’t compete with the bonus honor gained in battlegrounds.

Previously I had suggested increasing the honor gained from open world PvP by three fold. I now realize that it was too simple a fix that just would not work. The fix for open world PvP directly involves the title of this article… less is more.

Less battlegrounds means more open world PvP, but how do we get the players back out into the open world?

Close the battlegrounds

What!? Close the battlegrounds and only open them for short periods of time. This is a three fold fix for three separate issues.

First off it would increase interest in each of the battlegrounds once again. If only Warsong Gulch is open then players are going to actually play in Warsong Gulch. It no longer has to compete against the more efficient Arathi Basin or Alterac Valley. This would allow Blizzard to increase the rewards for winning a battleground while still offering a slight reward to those losing.

Secondly it brings back open world PvP as a large proponent of everyone’s contribution points. It puts the war back into the landscape. The lore, world, and art all depict grand battles raging across the lands, but when is the last time you saw that battle taking place? Outside of random encounters between opposite factions and gankers on the PvP servers there is no longer a battle taking place.

What happened to town raids? What happened to organized groups fighting around the end game instances and zones? Why create PvP inspired holiday events (like the stink bombs in Southshore for Hallow’s End) in the open world if the battlegrounds are always open offering much better honor.

Lastly it allows gamers that want to maintain a PvP rank while still enjoying PvE aspects of the game to do so. They can plan ahead on what nights they wish to PvP and what nights they want to PvE. They don’t have to stress about always being involved in battlegrounds to compete. A huge gap will no longer develop because you can’t log in during prime time to constantly run battlegrounds. PvE and PvP don't need to be exclusive

Another point is that guild groups and groups that play together could return to the open world PvP scene. Some of the best experiences I’ve had and that I’ve read about were from group PvP that occurred shortly after the initial honor patch. Groups tended to stay spread out across the world. Of course there was the TM/SS back and forth zerg, but the honor gained was very diluted by the simple fact that too many people damaged each target. Small five man group PvP in the higher level zones was the true source for fun, excitement, and honor.

A pleasant side effect of this is the idea of more open world PvP objectives (castle sieges, tower attacks, etc.). Something Blizzard has talked about, but has not produced. As long as the honor gained from the objectives is not overwhelming and not highly repeatable in short periods of time they would be a huge hit.

How It Would Work

Take the concept of the battleground holiday and mix it up a bit. During Friday – Sunday every week only ONE battleground would be open during certain hours. Not 24/7 during this time, but lets say every hour a new queue opens up. After the match you must wait until the next hourly queue to play again. That time is easily adjusted through testing and the specific battleground being opened. The three battlegrounds would then rotate on a weekly basis.

This allows players to do other things on more of a schedule rather than waiting around for the queue to let them into a match. It currently clogs the main cities with many bored players who are just waiting for battlegrounds to open.

A hurdle that would have to be overcome would be the population imbalance. My proposed system would mean that possibly some would not get to play because not enough battlegrounds would be opened.

This could be solved by what I believe Blizzard is already planning, cross server battlegrounds. Pulling people from multiple servers would create a much larger pool for players to be pulled from. Combine it with my proposal and I honestly believe you come out with a much better battleground experience.

Another possible fix that would reward the teams that win would be by opening a new battleground that pits them against players left in the queue, but that is less feasible because of the aforementioned population imbalances.

In the End

Something has to change. That is painfully obvious. People burn out or don’t even approach battlegrounds because of the fact that they are too fast paced and are dominated by those that spend more time in them in arranged groups.

My proposal goes a long way to please all types of gamers and is aimed at making battlegrounds exciting again. It is time to make them something that you want to go play in.
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