Disclaimer: I was not around when the game launched, so I missed out on Ilum (I started playing the game a couple of weeks before 1.2 launched). So I will obviously not be discussing it.
In a recent Bad Feeling Podcast Interview (205) (audio auto-plays) the developers talked about how, going forward, they were going to be introducing more means for players to make their own content, what they refer to as player-made content. Incorporating PvP features into the Rishi Stronghold was the first step in this venture.
You can read my summary and commentary of the interview here: A rare peek behind the Curtain – SWTOR Developer Interview by Bad Feeling Podcast
Player-made content can come in a lot of forms whether there is an incentive or not to partake in it. I’d argue that Open World PvP is definitely a type of player-made content. While the developers create the achievements and titles for it, is ultimately up to the players to make their own events or to simply do content in the PvP instance.
Over the years, there have been a couple of areas in the game where, for a time, Open World PvP has thrived (despite the lag). Let’s bring up a couple of examples, the Gree Event and Oricon.
The Good Times
The PvP component of the Gree Event, in its heyday, saw plenty of participation from PvPers and PvEers alike. Not just for the compelling PvP Dailies but also for the achievements and titles that came with them. These titles were highly desirable and the achievements were very fun to get!
In a similar vein, while Oricon didn’t have any PvP Dailies, it did have some OW PvP achievements with some seriously awesome titles!
- Scare Bear
- Judged Dread
These very highly coveted titles saw many community and guild events organised around getting these achievements to get the titles! These events were organised with some frequency over the first couple of years after Oricon launched.
What do both of these examples have in common? Not only did they both have compelling titles, the areas themselves were also well designed. Open, but with enough varied terrain for LOS and compelling encounters.
Considering a failed area
Where the Gree Event and Oricon succeeded, Iokath failed. The PvP achievements did not have any titles at all (although you can get 20 CC for completing all of them, not much of a draw-card IMO). Another major factor was the vast majority of the daily area was poorly designed for Open World PvP. Too many narrow spaces/corridors make for easy AOE spamming and choke-holding. There is some open space in the northern parts of the daily area that could potentially work for OW PvP encounters. But high mob density and little-varied terrain would make for minimally compelling engagements.
The main drawcard for Iokath OW PvP was supposed to be vehicular combat. Unfortunately, they were poorly implemented. Not only did they cost too much when they launched, they also had poor controls. Plus access to the vehicles (and dailies to earn the currency needed to purchase the vehicles) was gated by completion of the story. There were also no achievements for using the vehicles.
The partial attempt
Another planet with PvP achievements, with a title, is Yavin. I certainly wouldn’t dismiss it as a failure outright. In early 3.0 days, it was pretty easy to come across people flagged, initiate small skirmishes or even go at it solo doing dailies and get your 100 kills.
I never really saw any community events organised around it though. But it was pretty straightforward for guilds to organise their own events to get the guard kill achievements (which is what my guild did).
But given how little kills were needed for the achievement there wasn’t much need for community events (as fun as that would’ve been). But I have to say the way Yavin was designed is absolutely excellent for OW PvP.
The current state of OW PvP
The Gree Event and Oricon get very little OW PvP participation these days. One could argue that most of the dedicated player base who are still around and who were playing the game at the time those areas were introduced have already earned the achievements and titles.
The flagging caveat
But, we also need to consider the role having separate PvP and PvE instances had on OW PvP participation. Back in the day, on a PvE server, you could voluntarily flag for PvP. So if you were doing your dailies and you weren’t flagged and you saw an OW PvP encounter, you could flag and get involved. It was much easier to come across or even initiate fights. Now with separate instancing, there’s a divide between PvP and PvE that few people will cross. Far too many players are afraid of PvP instances.
Ultimately in my view, adding separate PvP and PvE instances was detrimental to OW PvP. I understand why they did it. It completely eliminates the possibility of someone being accidentally/unintentionally flagged. Periodically a new method of flagging someone would crop up and have to be fixed. Though these were few and far between.
I would ideally like to go back to having shared instances (no more separate PvE and PvP instances). The benefits certainly outweigh the risks but I highly doubt that Bioware will ever do that.
How do we bring Open World PvP to existing areas?
There are many areas in the game that have OW PvP kill achievements but have no associated titles. Here’s a list of just non-vanilla planets that fit this description (most vanilla planets have kill achievements):
- The Black Hole
- Section X
Though I have experienced some OW PvP in all the daily areas listed above and Makeb, there is little compelling players to get these achievements. It would (theoretically) be easy to add (good) titles to the kill achievements on these planets/areas to compel players to organise community and guild events.
The reason I didn’t mention the vanilla planets is because there is little reason to go back to them beyond Heroics. ~90% of Heroics occur in faction areas with little to no crossover with the opposite faction. This would make sporadic OW PvP near impossible.
Adding compelling titles to OW PvP kill achievements on vanilla planets could inspire community or guild events. But I’d say the planets I listed above should have greater priority in that regard (as good as it would be to have a reason beyond heroics to go back to vanilla planets).
And that is how you make player-made content with rewards!
How else could we encourage Open World PvP?
To encourage OW PvP further, I would also like to see either an increase in rewards and/or an additional PvP related reward for completing dailies in PvP instances. It could be something as simple as adding a small number of unassembled components as a reward, increasing the number of credits you get (hazard pay haha), increasing the amount XP/CXP you get or even add Cartel Certificates as a reward (troll face).
Perhaps I’m just being nostalgic for a better time. A time when a guildy would be doing dailies flagged come across a player flagged and engage them. They’d inform the rest of the guild and we’d drop what we were doing and go join them. The opponent would bring more friends and thus sprung a fun hour or two fun together as a guild. Those really were the days. Some of the most fun I have had playing this game has been participating in OW PvP encounters.
Hopefully, the Devs will take the time to add some basic incentives (like the ones I mentioned above) to current content and indeed mimic Gree and/or Oricon for future content. Then we’ll have some more player-made content to keep us occupied!