In addition to all of the fixes and polish coming in this next update (i.e. the update that is about to hit the Test Server!) we also took this opportunity to take a first stab at a new system: Simple Player versus Player combat!
Those of you who have been around since the beginning of Wizard101 will probably recognize this approach – long before the PvP Arena became a stand-alone game activity, we had a free-standing duel circle where players could run up, randomly jump into a team, and fight each other. This system is still around, actually – it’s how PvP works when you are fighting inside of a player house.
Taking this approach, first – before we put a much larger effort behind it – has some advantages: first, it breaks up the work, and allows us to bring the system online in pieces, second, it gives us an opportunity to “dip our foot into the pool” and test some of our base assumptions (and class balance) before anyone gets too emotionally invested in the results of the fights.
So, how does it work, you ask? Great question!
First off, PvP is (and will always be) completely consensual. If you don’t want to participate, you don’t have to. In fact, you will have to seek it out, if you want to try it.
Next, this system is only for fun. Winning a match against other player(s) gives you no reward. Losing a match, likewise, costs you nothing.
There are a limited number of places that you can try this feature out. There are two warehouses in Skull Island where PvP can be accessed (the Brawlin' Hall and Spar Chamber). The buildings have a red flag on top of them with a skull and crossbones behind swords logo along with a sign attached to each building with the same logo. If you are running towards the dock, the buildings on either side of the ramp that leads down to Blind Mew will now have interiors. Go inside either warehouse, and you’ll see a sigil that can be used to start a fight.
The sigils inside these warehouses are set up to allow any number of players to participate – from 1v1 to 4v4.
That said, you can’t join a match once it has started. You have to be there at the beginning of the match.
If the boards are full, you are welcome to watch – or, don’t forget, you can always change Realms to find an open one.
Additionally, we placed a 1v1 battle board inside two of the player houses: the Volcano Island house that was included in the Boochbeard bundle, and the Castaway Cove house that was included with the Cutthroat Bundle card at GameStop. These boards work the same way – except that they are limited to 1v 1 fights.
All PvP matches will be set up to be Epic Battles – meaning that players will choose the companions that they bring into the fight. This was done for a couple of reasons: one, to make the fights less random, and two, to make sure that crowns-purchased companions were no more impactful than quest-granted companions. (If everyone can bring in their best three companions, then it doesn’t matter if you buy twenty great companions, or none – everyone can bring their three best, and therefore everyone starts on equal footing.)
The difference should come down to companion training, customization, luck and – of course! – player skill.
OK, so, now that the basics are covered, let me give you a few more details, and try and get us all mentally on the same page:
1. Ship Battles are not included – yet! This isn’t because we don’t want to include them at some point – we just haven’t gotten to it yet. Patience, young grasshopper. All in due time.
2. Don’t expect the system to be completely balanced! That is a big part of why we are taking this approach; testing and playing here will give us a feeling for class (and companion) balance. If one class is greatly over (or under) powered, we’ll be able to see that, and account for it in future updates. (and when we do, we’ll try to address it by tweaking up the underpowered classes, rather than by nerfing existing powers, talents or companions.)
3. Not all of the powers work exactly the same as they do against monsters. A number of oddities came up, and we tried to address them to the degree we could. Here are a few; I am sure we will find more:
Traps, for example, will still trigger against the opposing team – but they won’t be invisible to them. We will fix this eventually.
Hide/Invisibility powers still grant damage bonuses to powers, AND make it impossible for people to directly target you – but the powers don’t actually hide you on the board, and you can still be hit with area of effect spells. We probably won’t fix this one, because it is extremely powerful to actually be invisible to the other team. (Though this is something we want to play with, before we make a final determination.)
Charm spells do work – even on other players! – but the charmed target will become an ally, and automatically determine their next action… so the results might be a bit wonky at times. This is another area we’ll need to watch, and likely make adjustments.
4. Planning Phase works differently! Unlike Wizard101, Pirate characters can move around the board. This means that, if both teams are allowed to give orders at the same time, a LOT of the game ends up being spent chasing people who are moving at the same time you are trying to close and attack… making the game really frustrating. So, Pirate101 uses separate planning phases for the two teams. After the game decides whether the blue team or red team goes first, the flow is like this:
The team going first enters planning phase (giving orders to their companions)
The team going first executes those orders
The team going second enters Planning phase (giving orders to their companions)
The team going second executes those orders
Team one’s allies, summoned/charmed creatures and pets will act
Team two’s allies, summoned/charmed creatures and pets will act
…until one team is victorious.
5. If the opposing team is in Planning Phase, you will be able to see the battle board, and mouse over the units to plan out your next attack – but you won’t be able to do anything until the next planning phase, when it becomes your team’s turn.
6. The only victory condition is “Defeat All Enemies.” Later, we hope to add more, but let’s start with the basics.
In summary, we are very excited about introducing Simple PvP into Pirate101 – but we’re also nervous because we know it will be a bit bumpy. So, if you would rather hold off until we release a more stable and balanced system next year – please, don’t subject yourself to something that is still very much a work in progress!
That said, if you are OK with a bit of odd behavior, have an open mind, and like the idea of being at ground zero of this creative experiment – then by all means, please come and join us. Let’s have some fun!