Category Archives: Playstyles

Should you play Black Desert Online as a PvEr?

Important Update: some of the info in this post is outdated. Please see this update!

One of the lingering concerns from the final Black Desert Online beta is the very PvP-centric focus of the game. Given that we’re dealing with an MMO that comes with such a beautifully crafted world, complex gathering and crafting mechanics, interesting housing and farming features, horse taming, boat building and whatnot, it is understandable that there’s more than your average Darkfall crowd lining up for BDO. The biggest questions from PvErs are therefore twofold:

  • Can I turn off PvP mode for myself / will there be PvE servers?
  • What about classic PvE content, aka dungeons, quests, endgame..?

The first question is easily answered at this point: nope. While there are ramifications for player killing in BDO, once your first character hits level 50 (edited for correction: level 50 is not the level cap as BDO has none), you are available for PvP. There is no opt-out at the present time. This also extends to whatever alts you may create on the same account which will no longer benefit from any newbie moratorium. There is the misconception that “flagging yourself” for PvP in BDO means consensual PvP but that’s not in fact the case; flagging yourself is required to engage in PvP but it does not save anyone from being ganked whether they are flagged or not.

Now, from some of the replies I received to my early CBT2 impressions and also reading more related forum articles since, it appears that ever since the Korean launch PKing in BDO has been nerfed to a point where “it’s no longer fun for hardcore PVPers” due to hefty karma penalties. Indeed, there’s been a lot of  outcry over this. This may serve as some reassurance to all those who would like to try Black Desert without being continuously ganked by others; while you can be killed anywhere, it doesn’t look like it’s gonna happen an awful lot. BDO’s main PvP content is siege / arena / instanced PvP.


What about PvE servers and classic PvE content?

It is always tiresome to see how fast forum discussions on PvE servers get derailed and attacked by those who feel threatened by peaceful playstyles. Or rather that’s not what the PvP player fears: what he fears is the exodus of potential sheep for slaughter. PvP players know fully well that they are a minority. I guess from that point of view I understand their frustration – BDO was primarily developed with PvP in mind, so that audience considers it “their game”. Yet, it is simply a misconception that not having alternatives would mean everyone stays together. This is not the year 2000 where desperate MMO players stick around no matter their environment. These people will simply leave the game never to return. If you want outdoor PvP in any meaningful fashion in MMOs nowadays, it needs to be consensual while allowing everyone else to perform other roles. That said, for reasons already stated above I have my doubts PvE servers are even required.

Furthermore, it de facto doesn’t look like Pearl Abyss have any plans for PvE servers. In this, I believe some of the passionate PvP advocates on the official forums to be correct – it doesn’t make an awful lot of sense to have PvE servers in a game with so little classic PvE content or endgame. It’s a sandbox MMO which is basically the opposite of getting themepark PvE content handed to you. And to drive this point home further, the developers have made it pretty clear in a very recent pre-release interview that they have no intention to turn BDO into a classic PvE game:

Q: Are there any plans to add instance based dungeons and or raids for end game PVE content?

A: Adventures and fierce guild wars in Black Desert are strongly established on an open-world system. Some special content might need to utilize an instance dungeon system, but we are not going to add a repetitive instanced dungeon, where the sole purpose is getting rewards.  Guild- and party-centric raids are already implemented in the game now, and we are developing more advanced kind of raid.

Q: Are there any plans to do epic quest lines for an in game reward. I.E. Extremely difficult quest lines that could take month+ to complete. Rewards could be unique high end weapons that have special characteristics, stats, or an extremely unique look.

A: No matter how hard a quest is, it can never deliver the same level of achievement or anticipation once it is cleared or a walkthrough is published. Most of the quests in the beginning stages of the game are simple and guiding, but as the player proceeds toward a later stage of the game, such as Valencia, desert and maritime quests demand long-distance travel and intense adventure. A quest in Black Desert should be an extension of the exploration of the in-game region, and can also assist players by making the exploration more convenient or helping with character growth.  However, we’d like to state that we do not prefer a type of quest that players feel obliged to complete, in order to become stronger or to gain rewards. Players should play freely and naturally in the game, and it is never fun to be pressed into doing something to get rewards. We do plan to add some difficult quests, but the estimated time of arrival is still not set.

I must admit, while I do not find outdoor PvP enjoyable personally (but I am willing to give it a shot based on everything I know), I love everything about the answers provided above. The devs have no intention to do what’s already been done to death elsewhere. If you want long questlines that everyone can go look up on a Wiki after two days, go elsewhere. If you want to repeat the same dungeons over and over for rewards, go elsewhere.

That’s not to say that there won’t be any types of repetitive grinds in Black Desert Online, I know there will be. But it sounds like there’s a clear vision behind this MMO and a decided focus on sandbox over PvE. And isn’t that what so many have kept asking for in the past? Personally, I look forward to see how things turn out. Should you play Black Desert Online as a PvEr? Let’s find out.

You lost me at [Reasons]!


And the answer is NoooOOOOoooope!

Like most players there’s game genres I like more or less depending on mood and a fair few I won’t play at all. For me personally, RTS or stuff like train simulators definitely belong to that last category. I detest micro-management in games and sims better be exciting and set in some fantasy world or I won’t touch them with a pitchfork.

Genres to avoid aside, there’s features within my more prized categories that will instantly make me go “Eww” and 99 out of a 100 times that will be the end of our fleeting relationship. They’re the fly in an otherwise tasty soup, it really doesn’t matter if it’s a great looking RPG or adventure game or open world MMO – some features are make or break, au revoir mon ami! So of course here’s a quick list of my top five intolerable game features as of today:

  • Isometry; I can’t play isometric games. There’s a ton of great looking and no doubt fun online coop games that OH NOES happen to be isometric. I can’t stand it, it’s about the most unimmersive gameplay experience I can imagine. Also, many RTS are isometric, eww!
  • Round-based; I spent over a decade playing round-based JRPGs and am simply over this slow and formulaic type of combat. Give me hack’n slay any day of the week! Next!
  • Roguelike/permadeath; Who has time to lose their progress over and over? What is this, a real-life sim? Permadeath games are fun for about 2.5 seconds and then it all feels like the greatest waste of time ever. I don’t think sooooo.
  • Jumping Puzzles; Oh man, the pain…the cringe that shoots through my body whenever MMO devs talk about adding more jumping puzzles to their game as if that was somehow a great thing. Jumping puzzles will make me swear off a title quicker than tankinis – if I want to jump around like an obsessed monkey am gonna play PLATFORMERS, thank you!
  • Facebook; I don’t have a facebook account and never will. Many mobile games especially require players to log in via facebook or acquire special items exclusively via the devil. Suffice to say, they can burn in hell without me.

I realize this is a beautiful collection of features that should be buried deep, deep in the underbelly of game design never to see the light of day again. Of course, it’s all subjectivebla and we’re bound to disagree and have wonderful arguments about who’s right or wrong! So, why not share some of your personal no-gos in gaming with the rest of the world? I’m sure someone out there is playing a roundbased, isometric RTS with permadeath as we speak, yikes!

We Are Explorers, Part 2: And also very annoying! [#Blaugust 21]

Last night I discovered that Tevis Thompson recently published another one of his rockstar insightful wall-of-text essays on the shattered soul of videogaming and I don’t even know where to start – I need to write about this but I also need more time! I find myself overwhelmed by resonance every time I read his analyzis and ye gods, there’s so much to address…so for now, I’d rather just leave you with this link over the weekend. Really, just read it – do it now! (maybe come back here after.)

For this fine blaugust 21st, I do hereby declare that of the four essential MMO playstyles, explorers are by far the hardest to satisfy and therefore a real headache for developers. We’re really quite an annoying bunch that way and since I self-identify as explorer (and all the incomplete gamer surveys I’ve ever taken would agree there), I shall explain why I think so. In a way, am letting developers off with this but not really. Also for the record, I do not actually believe any player to be defined by merely one interest or playstyle – I find Bartle and other gamer categorizations as insufficient as the next person. For the sake of simplicity and my fun with this argument however, let’s roll with clear-cut, straightforward gamer attitudes. Okay? Good!


Already part of Bartle’s character theory chart

It’s always struck me how both socializers and killers/pvpers have the strong social component in common. They come across as very opposed preferences but both playstyles are fundamentally driven and enabled by other people, as in PCs rather than NPCs. If we were gonna oversimply definitions to the point of being a little insulting (I’m doing it!), you could say that what socializers really require in MMOs is a colorful, interactive stage they can hang out on with other equally chatty people. As for killers, they require prey – they need a platform that allows them the freedom to organize themselves in groups and then go after everyone that’s worse than they are, challenging each others various skills. Again, these are gross oversimplifications but the takeaway is that the entire MMO world and setting is secondary to the primary, social experience (which is not to say that these playstyles know zero single-player appeal, they do – and there’s other genres than MMOs that may appeal to them).

Then there’s achievers and well, they’ve already won as far as MMOs are concerned, haven’t they? The great majority of MMORPGs since WoW which have followed the linear themepark approach, have been created with achieverdom in mind, stuff packaged into small itsy bits with clearly cut out paths and little popups of “hooray” and content patches and expansions of blarrggghhh…..(oh sorry, I got lost there for a minute). Anyway, achievers may thrive through experiences with or without other people – what I do understand about their basic mindset is that they enjoy work that’s been cut out for them, checking goals off a list, feeling gratified by achieving predetermined wins, a sense of tangible progression and completion. Therefore, achievers require steady content from the developer monster and that’s basically the world we all live in today – THANKS A LOT YO!


Okay okay, explorers! I started off by saying we’re the annoying bunch (*cough*) and we are, in the sense that our itch is very hard to scratch intentionally. Explorers need space and the freedom to roam, interesting things and randomness and umm…..intrinsic drive created through game design that must not be noticed. Simple, right? We want to be wowed at the exact moment of our choosing or well, at least never of the game’s choosing, and without any notion of the invisible puppetmaster present. The game world just needs to “be”, needs to simulate something real and after that we’re mostly interested in ambling off the beaten path and potentially finding stuff nobody else would nor intended for us to find. NEGATIVE SPACES, come on MMOs!

Freedom in games is a finely crafted illusion. Infinite depth and space can only be achieved by carefully orchestrated mystery. And randomness is mostly unthinkable.

And this is why having explorers for an audience is sort of a nightmare for any slightly ambitious world designer. Really, I feel for you – so much love and respect for those who get it right in MMOs, even just for a little while! I guess that’s also why randomly or procedurally generated maps were all the rage for some time, only the problem with that is….it’s not quite that simple. A haphazardly generated world feels redundant fast and oddly meaningless. There’s only so many times you like to take a trip into the blue in Minecraft until everything starts blending and feels the same. So yes, random but not totally random…..what can I say, we’re complicated!

P.S. Happy Friday everybody – explorerdom foreva!

My Playstyle Profile according to Quantic Foundry [#Blaugust 9]

Over at comeback blog Stylish Corpse, the delightful Ysharros linked her Quantic Foundry player profile for blaugust, a survey which I have meant to take for a while. Like many MMO players I’ve taken the Bartle test in the past which was very accurate for me, as long as you rely on such results with some care.


My Bartle profile

I was as shocked as the next person about my achiever stat….

Art Technica calls the Quantic Foundry test “gaming’s version of the Myers-Briggs test” which I have taken as well several times in the past and reliably scored the same. Quantic Foundry introduces 6 parameters rather than Bartle’s four playstyles, with the notable additions of the “immersion playstyle” and “mastery” one, which I feel were the least accounted for by Bartle. Naturally, there’s plenty of overlap otherwise between the two.

“The quick quiz doesn’t do a perfect job of capturing the wide variety of gaming motivations; as Ars’ Sam Machkovech put it, the quiz “asked a lot of questions that didn’t match up with my preferences, particularly puzzle and couch multiplayer stuff.” That said, the six-pronged matrix of scores does seem to do a decent job breaking down a participant’s tastes and how they might overlap with other gamers.” [source]

Same as for Bartle, no player is purely defined by their strongest interest or inclination and all tests fall short including everyone and everything. What they can absolutely do is illustrate the differences between yourself and the next person and maybe clear a few things up – like why you hate questing with your significant other.


My QF gamer score

I quite like the insight provided by the survey. At first I was slightly surprised at the 39% I scored for immersion; I care a great deal about the setting, world, aesthetic and theme in MMOs. However at the same time, I am also very “grounded in the gameplay mechanics” as their guide calls the non-immersive player type and I am not exactly a lore-junkie.

My results also illustrate well that I need to be excited – I’m an explorer and designer but I love fast-paced action and some competition too. Stuff that requires a quick reaction time and some strategy (not too much micro-management, mind) gives me a rush. After all I raided for quite some time in the past. I just don’t care much about whether I am the best relatively speaking or about having the most or doing everything. I don’t need that pressure from games.

You can take the QF test over here if you feel bored this fine Sunday or are looking for something else to blog about for blaugust (or in general)! There’s no requirement to sign up in order to get your results. If someone scores completely differently from what they expected, I’d love to hear about that.