Why PvP Servers Eat Me For Breakfast…

October 6, 2011

My personal PvP Code of Ethics:

1. In the past, I may have given the impression on this blog that I have a general aversion to open-world PvP — which is not exactly true. PvP can be enjoyable when it’s a challenging and honorable sport. Given this, I do not attack players currently engaged in fighting and are low in health and completely unprepared to be ambushed.

2. This also means I derive no satisfaction in accosting an opponent who has little to no chance of defeating me. I will not attack other players who are so blatantly underleveled (when compared to me) that they will have no realistic chance of winning.

3. That said, if you are low leveled but decide to pick a fight with me anyway, don’t expect any mercy.

4. There is no honor in ruining another player’s fun or experience. There is no reason to corpse camp, go into opposing towns to kill all their questgivers or helpful NPCs, or in general act like a dick.

5. My personal philosophy is “get it done and move on”. A good fight will warrant a /bow or a /salute from me, but I will not resort to stripping down and dirty dancing on your corpse, tea-bagging your face, or go bragging in general chat about how lulz you totally got pwned.

Does this make me a carebear? Most likely, but I’ve never denied it. In fact, proud to be in the club.

But it’s probably no surprise that following my code to the letter gets me eaten alive on a PvP server, which is why I haven’t gone back to one in almost three years and have resolved to just stick to RP servers. The above simply reflects my philosophy. For me, PvP is an opportunity to test my mettle against a worthy opponent, not to humiliate anyone or go on an ego trip to validate my own self worth. I try to exhibit fair play in everything I do and PvP’s no different.

By the way, note this is just my personal outlook on PvP, and in no way am I pushing these views onto others or expecting others to agree. What personal rules, if any, do you follow?


  1. I agree wholeheartedly with your approach to Open PvP gaming. I have likewise had terrible experiences that have kept me away from PvP servers. If only everyone was as honorable as we few.

    • My first MMO experience was on a PvP server. I was so noobish that I thought it was all like this. Then when I finally got clued in that there were such things as PvE servers, it was like a dark cloud had lifted. I still played briefly on PvP servers until finally I just phased them out all together.

  2. It’s that commonality of opinion that keeps me coming back back here, knowing that your previews of things I haven’t played will be a good guide.

    I shy away from open world PvP for much the same reasons It seems to bring out the worst bullying behavior. Why do some people think it is fun to ruin the gaming experience of others?

    • It’s a downward spiral sometimes. I’m sure there are a lot of decent folks that turn to griefing others because it’s happened so many times to them. It’s happened to me before and that anger just takes over and you feel like taking it out on somebody. That’s not what I want to become, which is another reason why I just said, screw it, and stayed the hell away from PvP servers.

  3. That’s pretty much exactly why I don’t enjoy open world “attack anyone of any level” PvP games. I enjoy battleground style PvP where players are segregated by level, or RvR PvP where there are PvE leveling areas segregated off from the PvP areas. However, ganking and being ganked in matchups that are finished before they even start is a form of gameplay I don’t enjoy in the slightest.

    I don’t at all mind being beaten by someone better than me (not a hard skill level to achieve in most games, I can assure you). I don’t even mind losing a fight in RvR style game because ones side shows up with more players. That happens a lot in war, it’s to be expected. However, being beaten by someone because it is mathematically impossible for my opponent to lose is frustrating as hell, and piss poor game design imo.

    More generally, any game design where other players get to decide whether I have fun or not simply sucks imo. My spare time isn’t so copious that I am willing to spend it playing games where I may or may not have the potential to have fun depending on whether asshats are hanging around when I log.

    • My personal opinion is that there is never any reason for me to be the one to attack someone much lower than me. There’s usually no reward in it, and it only results in pissing off the other person royally. There’s no satisfaction in that for me, and like you said, it’s not a challenge.

  4. PvP has never been implemented in a way I see as perfect for my tastes, which are similar to yours but probably a little more open.

    • I feel the same, though for me I see the problem as games being too ambitious and trying to do everything at the same time. That’s how you run into a lot of balance problems.

  5. Great editorial as always.

    I love PvP, but not because I like killing other players. I like the sense of danger PvP adds while I’m out exploring a new world.

    I do admit that I have done some things I’m not especially proud of. However in these moments I was not the aggressor, and generally my action was during or after an act of revenge. I can be very competitive and sometimes my temper gets the best of me.

    By the same token I spent two year in Age of Conan killing gankers. I was well known on the server and developed a good reputation. When I did do something questonably ugly, it was generally in an RP sense. I’ve had other players call me out at times, but in the end if the character I’m playing is a little overzealous in their action, it’s because I’ve been wronged in some way (in the game world). Ain’t payback a bitch.

    I have never, ever teabagged another player though. 😉

    • Retaliation is a whole other matter to me. What I wrote in my post above is pretty much all about not being the instigator, but like I mentioned, if you attack me or antagonize me in any way, don’t expect me not to fight back, no matter what level you are. If I see idiots swarming lowbie towns, for example, I usually join in to teach the griefers a lesson.

      And as I only play female toons, I guess tea bagging for me isn’t even anatomically possible 😛

  6. Your rules hit pretty close to home in my thoughts as well. Constant pvp flag realms I’m kinda ‘meh’ to, just because I know full well how bad and annoying base raping can get in FPS games so I opt out of those. Keep the option to flag up whenever you want, fine. But I’m not one of those people to go around and say “Oh, but if we were flagged all the time I could kill him when I want!” as that goes with the assumption that no one would even take fault with your line of thinking and gank you on the spot before it got to that.

    There is a looong list of posts about a similar topic of allowing flagging yourself on the spot in Diablo 3 as in Diablo 2 it was very bad, mostly because of badly programmed mechanics. Example: I was helping a friend on a hardcore character (dies once and you can never play it again) and instructing them over vent to get out of the way as the boss was going to do a nasty aoe. Meanwhile a random person in our party cast four fireballs my way, far off screen. They placed and jumped through a portal to town where they pvp flagged the entire group he was in, which in D2 meant he was flagged and it automatically flagged *me* in the process. Milliseconds later those fireballs flew into view and crashed against the wall beside me, killing me without warning.

    He/she let out a quick “LOLUMAD?!” before leaving the room with the boss still alive, clearly he was not in it for the loot.

    That is NOT pvp. That is griefing and the two are often lumped together by the young trolls first branching out in the video game universe.

    Of course they cannot comprehend the idiocy of their ways and anyone telling them otherwise is instantly labled a carebear, which itself makes no sense. Their total argument, when taken out of leet or even double-speak is pretty much “I like to kill innocent people who don’t have a chance. I am enamored by the thrill of damaging your gameplay expereince. If you don’t like it, you must suck and hate pvp otherwise you would enjoy ganking as much as myself. If you somehow survive and kill me, you must have no life, and/or; I make more money than you do because I have a real job and wish not to waste my life on just games.”

    To finish off the D3 example, they are promoting co-op this time around and leaving out that sudden ‘we are both flagged now because *I* say we are’ mechanic and replacing it with team deathmatch modes as well as arenas. If you want to kill others, sign up for that. If you want to pve, do that. While this is fine for me as I can choose when to do both, it ruffles the other side of the arguement because they don’t like that ‘we’ have the option to choose in the first place.

    As for why my views on it are, besides the above of course ^_^:

    I think it kinda depends on my mood. If I’m feeling a bit cheeky I might just go after ‘that guy’ even if he is busy with mobs. Not because I enjoy pissing people off, but mostly because that is generally when I get attacked so why put my characters life at stake when I know they would not do the same? Plus it was a frost mage and you need every advantage you can get against those OP death machines >.>

    I’m not a fan of straight-up ganking. I only play on realms where you have to go out of your way to flag, in which case if they are flagged it is fair game. I liked Holla or whatever it was called in Nagrand a lot though. That was a lot of fun with the bombing. Just wish I got credit for *all* of my bomb kills, even when I got the hit and was too far away.

    Depending on what game/mode I am playing, like even in FPS games where it is team based last man standing and the enemy side only has one guy left and me and a group of like three people stumble onto them, I generally just sit back and let them 1 vs 1 it out. Usually the rest of the group dive in blood-hungry, but when it isn’t even like that I don’t press the advantage too much. It’s not really a challenge, odds are we will win anyway, and I have been on the receiving end of badly stacked teams for years so I can totally feel where those guys a coming from. It’s like when Han ran screaming into the room full of storm troopers XD

    • Very good examples, and I agree that unfortunately for a lot of people PvP gets lumped in with all the bad behaviors that you listed. What’s worse, is that these behaviors get perpetuated because newcomers are introduced to this and simply become used to the idea that’s “just the way things are”. Nothing irks me more than the “everyone else is doing it, so why shouldn’t I?” attitude, but oh well, what can you do.

      I also agree with your outlook on servers where you have to go out of your way to flag yourself. I do see that as fair game as well, usually when they do it they know what it means and they expect and are prepared for what may be coming.

      • On the bright side, doing things that accidentally flag you also leads to hilarously horrific results.

        “Weird seeing a guy out here by himself. I’ll give him a buff and garner some faction pride. Weird that his name was green… OMG he was flagged! *I’M* FLAGGED!” and you spend the next five minutes frantically running for your life while bargoning with the closest diety you can find. “I swear, I’ll let the lowbies have all of the peacebloom in Westfall, ALL of it! Even that one *awesome* double spawn by that one rock next to the murloc hut! Just make the flag timer go away…” /pitiful sobbing

  7. I haven’t actually played an open world PvP game in a bit, but none of those behaviors bother me when they do. I expect it, I’m prepared for it, and my fun depends on it. The adrenaline flows like no other gaming experience.

    “Never was anything great achieved without danger” — Machiavelli

    • I expect it too, which is why it doesn’t bother me either when I actually find myself on a PvP server and know what I’m getting into. But just don’t expect to see me also do the same to other players when I’m on a open world PvP server 🙂 I agree with you about the danger being the fun part, which is why I would never engage another player who is lower level than me or would never have a chance of winning. Simply put, where’s the danger in that?

  8. Encrazed hit it. There’s a difference between PvPing and Griefing. A difference many idiots don’t seem to grasp which your personal code seems to explain quite well.

    Personally I’m not against Open World PvP. I am against Open World PvP in a game which is 99% PvE. I think the two game modes should not mix. If you’re making a PvE game then tell the PvPers to sod off. If you’re making a PvP game, then tell the PvEers to sod off. I generally don’t PvP in MMOs precisely because of that mindset. Why would I want to spend 99% of my time leveling up a character in PvE only to consider PvP the end game?

    • Yes, there is definitely a substantial part of the MMO gaming population who see PvPing and Griefing as one and the same. And I agree 100% with you on the two game modes not mixing. It’s why I enjoyed LOTRO so much when I first played it. That game is definitely a special case, having a monsterplay mode, it was obvious that all the effort had been poured into PvE, and the quality of gameplay including the combat and world immersion reflected that.

  9. The problem with not playing on a RPPvP server to me is the simple fact that it really breaks immersion for me. Of course getting ganked and camped is no bargain either but not being able to kill my enemy that’s right beside me is just too much of immersion breaker.

    • I guess it depends on how seriously you take the “enemy” situation. A perfect example is WoW, where the lore is that the two faction–up until Cataclysm, at least–were not in open warfare. There were hot spots, but it was mostly a cold war.

      As GeeCee pointed out, one of the biggest issues is when it is literally impossible for one of the player to win, because of level discrepancies. IMHO, any dedicated PvP world would have a much flatter level system, if levels at all. So that any character (depending on player skill) has a fighting chance against any other.

    • Rowan hit the nail on the head. I agree RP-PvP can be part of the whole immersive experience, as I’ve had awesome memories of some grade-A RP-PvP situations where everyone was completely in character and it played out more like a story between characters rather than just another player-on-player encounter. It is definitely a whole different matter when we talk about ganking and camping. Then it becomes griefing, and not about the immersion at all.

  10. I feel the same way. I just can’t see how it would be fun to camp someone. There’s no joy in beating up on lowbies. I started WoW on a PvP server and gladly left sometime before TBC. I almost made the same mistake with SWTOR coming up, but my friends have, fortunately, talked me off that cliff.

    • I cut my teeth on PvP servers as well, and thought that was the way everything was, and only gradually came to realize there are pros to rolling on a PvE server. After that, an ex-boyfriend turned me onto the benefits of an RP server, and I’ve been interested in them ever since, though I think it is mostly coincidental that the SWTOR guild I’m in is tagged for RP as well.

  11. Way back in the heathen king days of old i was heavy into the Grand Marshall grind. I was on a pvp server, a knight champion. Every day was a brush with death, from stv to epl. In war and pvp u expect no favors or courtesy. But every pvper i’ve known had honor and respect. Honestly i get up for the competition of pvp. I wont lie and say i dont get off killin other people. Its fun even in moments where i get griefed. Its part of the game and culture of pvping….its all in good fun to me. But i make it a point to let people knw i’m not being disrespectful in killing you. If its pvp youre fair game to me. If its not your cup of tea, to each their own.

    • Absolutely, I think anyone who rolls on a PvP server should expect everything that is to be, well, expected of an environment like that. I first started playing MMOs on a PvP server and never knew things to be any different so I never whined or raged, but I’ll tell you it was very difficult to remain “honorable” and true to my own code when every day you came across someone out only to ruin the fun for others. Like you said though, it is the culture of today’s PvPing…and as I cannot condone it, I simply chose to leave PvP servers forever.

  12. Have any of you rolled on a RPPvP server? I have found those to be more “adult friendly” and you can still maintain that element of a surprise battle with another player yet with honor. You still will find some kiddies but I have found a vast difference in PvP server and RPPvP server attitudes.

    • I honestly haven’t played on an RPPvP server. If there is a normal code of ethics, then it would be more fun. It’s not that I dislike PvP in and of itself. I enjoy Battlegrounds, for instance. But having briefly played on a PvP server (NA Deathwing, if anybody cares) in Vanilla, I have experienced both sides of the ganking, bullying atmosphere. Only once did I feel “good” about the situation and that was when an opposite faction player let us finish a quest kill before laying into us, when he could have left our corpses to the dingoes we were trying kill. That was honorable, IMHO.

    • I have never rolled on an RP-PvP server, but I think if I was ever presented with an opportunity (ie. friends forming a guild, etc.) I would be very interested to try.

  13. Those are pretty much my rules. As much fun as i am having in WoW, it is a little dampened by the idiots trying to gank me, despite being decked in Tier 12 gear at level 85, when I am in greens, at level 34.

    I understand the point in picking on someone a few levels below you. But to pick on someone several levels below you, that you could one shot, one who has absolutely no chance of beating you, is just dumb…

    • I’m with you, I just don’t understand that. Being on a PvP server, the fun is in the danger and the risk. There is no risk of being out leveled, out geared, picking a fight with someone still level 34 and in greens.

  14. I have traditionally run on PvP servers in the past. I broke this pattern in the last run I did in AoC, where I rolled a fresh toon on Set, a PvE server. This worked out pretty well – I could quest without incident, but had ample opportunity to get PvP in through mini games and the open PvP zones they had.

    I like the IDEA of open world PvP, where danger lurks around every corner, and two enemies could encounter each other while questing. For me though,this is generally not what actually happens. More often high level players prey on players in low level zones, and equal leveled players wait to attack until their opponent is engaged and near dead. If that is what you like, power to you, but I prefer a more straight forward fight.

    To this end, the guilds I am with in SWTOR will be running on an RP PvE server, and will be making a conceded effort with our alliance members to organize as many open world events as possible. I want my PvP fix, but on terms where everyone is having fun.

    • My outlook is pretty similar to yours. If preying on characters lower than you or ganking someone low in health or nearly dead is fun, then fine, but I won’t be party to it either. I prefer “chivalrous” PvP, but it never happens to me either. I’ve just had enough of the frustration and I’m not going to rage, just going to remove myself from situations like that in the future…hence I have no problems at all going RP-PvE for SWTOR.

  15. I’m a carebear too 😉 Good list of rules. I like PvP but only when I am in the mood for it.

    I don’t like being interrupted with questing or whatever it is I am doing. I have played on PvP servers in WoW (before BGs were introduced) and it was not a fun deal leveling up to 50+. Won’t do it again, lol.

    • Yes, I’m a fan of the consensual PvP 🙂 Whether or not it’s a battleground or duel or just flagging myself for the hell of it, at least I expect the behaviors directed at me and if I do get ganked/griefed etc. oh well, I knew what I was getting into. But yeah, sometimes a girl just wants to quest though 🙂

  16. I have never once rolled on a PvP server because I am a dyed-in-the-wool carebear. I barely like playing the PvP minigames that are common in most MMOs.

    I remember when PvP was the big endgame for many MMOs. That made it easy for me to stay away.

    • Oh, that wouldn’t be good for me either. I’m a creature of habit, once I like something I want to stick with it, and if a game started off one way and switches gears on me like that for endgame, I’d probably quit.

  17. I don’t think what you posted makes you a “carebear.” Even as a PvPer, and someone who rolls almost exclusively on PvP servers, I can relate to several of the principles you posted.

    The reason I roll on PvP servers is more out of a love for unpredictable PvP. You don’t get that on any other server, but the rush is very intoxicating. There are times when I’ve been jumped while in the middle of some activity. Sometimes, I’ll lose, but more often than not, I’ll find a way to kill the ambusher. That provides a rush that makes it worth it, for me.

    For instance, I recall once upon a time questing through Hellfire Pen, when someone jumped me mid-fight. I had been running on a Blood dk (back when they were still dps). I was killing a ravager for a quest, when, out of the blue, another dk – unholy, I could tell by his named ghoul – jumped me. I could tell he was expecting me to be confused, or otherwise caught off-guard.

    However, he probably didn’t realize that Blood dks in those days were the most broken dps class in the game at the time (disease-spreading plate-wearers that regen as they do damage? *Gasp*).

    The encounter went something like this:

    1. Enemy attacks (full hp), me (1/2 hp)
    2. Death Strike (30% hp return) on ravager; me (now 2/3rd hp)
    3. Spread diseases from ravager to Enemy (now 2/3rd hp)
    4. Summon Ghoul
    5. Death Pact (40% hp return; me (nearly full hp), Enemy (dying slowly)
    6. Enemy attempts to flee; Chains of Ice (-95% move speed)
    7. Enemy attempts to hop like a bunny thinking it will help (it doesn’t)
    8. Enemy dies
    9. /laugh at Enemy’s lifeless body (all jumpers deserve it in my book)

    There are other stories, such as the time my best buddy and I (both Horde players) happened to get into a full-on brawl, 2v3 (Alliance favored) in, around, and outside of Thrallmar in Hellfire Pen. Even outnumbered, we still kicked ally ass. By the end, it had turned into a 4v4 (two random Horde players dropped by, and I’m guessing the allies called in two friends).

    That, sadly, is something you never get to experience on a PvE/RP server.

    I guess in the end you have to decide whether or not you enjoy random PvP, or if you like it entirely structured. If you don’t like having fights come up randomly, there is no need to roll on a PvP server. You can just queue up for a warzone/PvP zone whenever you feel like PvPing.

    The possibility of finding those choice random PvP moments make it worth the risk of getting ganked for me – but I can certainly understand why others might avoid PvP servers.

    I guess I just like it when an opportunistic ganker shows up to an area, not expecting someone of equal or comparable level to be in the area… Then, you know, bitchslapping them back to Bangkok.

    • I agree, a lot of the fun in PvP is the unpredictability of it. Other players can be creative and oftentimes even humorous in their approaches to fighting, and that can be a great way to learn the potential of your class.

      If only all PvP can be “honorable”, I think I would have stayed on PvP servers and have been perfectly happy. Unfortunately, that’s not the case…not that I have any issue with it, and I understand for some people that is the fun of rolling on a PvP server. Personally, I’ve had my share of being corpse-camped and killed by “skull-leveled” players in the past that the cons started out weighing the pros. After learning about my limits, I’ve come to realize I do prefer more structured PvP.

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