You asked a very important question, and you're best served by an outline of the problem with potential solutions. "User Stories", if you will. As admins and developers, you guys exist in the solution space, and it's very difficult to derive actionable information with generic complaints.
: As a "general/casual" player, I would like a structured and non-punitive PK environment so that I may participate without constant grief.Problem Definition
: Imperian is not an evenly matched PVP gaming environment. Between artifacts, monolith powers, promo items...you end up with a sandbox with very severe power disparities. Rocket launchers vs squirt guns, you could say. In a perfectly matched environment, time-in-game and microtransactions would provide visual customization, flexibility, and possibly a swing of ~10% or so for additional edge in combat. That isn't the case, though. We've run pretty extensive tests, and the power differential is severe enough that a lightly artied aspect damage-focused class cannot damage down a heavily artied, equal level squishy class whilst the heavily-artied individual does nothing but stand there and passively heals.
That's fine. This is a practice spread across most IRE games, and we understand that this might even be the design intention...to provide a huge, nearly insurmountable mechanical advantage to characters with more time/money invested in the game.
Unfortunately, this creates several gameplay impacts that funnel the user experience in negative ways for those not possessing mechanically superior characters. With an acknowledged imbalance in 1v1 design, this creates two user solutions - 1. Grouping
. If you're not a heavily-artied player, then you stay in groups and avoid engaging solo. 2. Avoidance.
The PVP imbalance is enough to encourage players to avoid PVP altogether.
With "Intense PVP Combat" as the first advertised feature on Imperian.com, I assume option 2 is NOT the design intention. The game designers and corporate WANT people to engage in PVP, so a system that pushes people to option 2 should be avoided at all cost. We players WANT people to engage in PVP to create a full, active game experience.
So let's move on to Goals/Solutions.
: How could PK be structured to encourage participation in PVP from all power levels?
: Nerfing "arti-whales" will anger the most loyal/active users and fundamentally shift the game. Definitely falls under "high risk appetite" and should be avoided. Do note that I am NOT an "arti-whale", and after 40ish days of playtime I still only possess about 4 level 1 artifacts at level 103.Possible Short-term Solutions - 1. Do not punish group defensive actions.
If a group of players are hanging around their local area, and a nearby group needs to form to deal with a single player...there shouldn't be "vengeance tokens" on those who are literally defending a local teammate. If we keep the mechanical imbalance, then the assumption of "Let me Gank 1v1 or Else be Ganked" only benefits the mechanically imbalanced. Do the game designers really want to encourage scenarios where citymates sit near their city, silently, while a citymate is ganked? "Welp, I don't wanna be harassed for the next week, so I better just let them murder my friend". 2. Remove "revenge PK" entirely.
No one is entitled to a "payback PK", and instead use some sort of "notoriety" or "aggression" flag. If someone validly engages another and wins, move on. If someone engages another and gets fought off from a team, move on.3. "Retire Value" (or another metric) as a driver of structure
. This is more mechanically complicated, but the higher someone's "artifact weight/retirement value", the more restrictions should be placed on them. What we don't want is "roving bands of mechanically imbalanced gank squads" as a counter to "defensive bands of low-end players". You want new blood, new players, "lowbies" experimenting in the game without having their experience crushed by powerful high-end players.
I've only been around for a few months, and so am likely missing some truly elegant solutions to this problem. These are just basic observations I've posted to contribute to the ongoing discussion.